A study to learn more about treating malignant mesothelioma - can we improve quality of life?

More information about Mesothelioma in the UK

Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos in the vast majority of cases. Prior to controls on asbestos exposure introduced in the 1970s, industrial asbestos exposure was widespread in the United Kingdom (UK), although a much larger workforce involved with lagging and construction continued to be exposed until the early 1980s. Imports of asbestos to the UK only ceased in 1997. The UK now has the highest death rate from MPM in the world and predictions continue to forecast this figure increasing up to 2015 and possibly 2020; deaths in western Europe from MPM are expected to approach nine thousand per year at this time. Precise predictions are hampered by the long lag time between exposure and disease manifestation of at least 30-40 years. The projected lifetime risk of MPM for a UK male born in the 1940s is 0.59%, or approximately 1 in 170 of all deaths. In the UK in 2008, 2249 deaths from MPM were reported. Presenting symptoms of MPM are frequently an insidious onset of unilateral chest pain, dyspnoea, fatigue, insomnia and weight loss. There is no cure for MPM. Aggressive treatment strategies involving combinations of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy remain controversial and have no sound evidence base. At present in the UK, the fittest patients with MPM will be offered a combination of two chemotherapy agents, cisplatin and pemetrexed, a regime that has been demonstrated to improve survival from 9.3 to 12.1 months when compared with cisplatin alone in a randomised clinical trial of 456 patients. There is no proven or agreed consensus on a second line chemotherapy for MPM. While there is active research ongoing for further chemotherapy and immunotherapy agents for patients with MPM, best supportive care remains the mainstay of treatment for those not fit enough for chemotherapy, and for those who have had first line chemotherapy. Please take the links above for more information.