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According to an article recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the treatment combination consisting of Alimta® (pemetrexed) and Paraplatin® (carboplatin) is an effective and well-tolerated regimen for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare cancer that develops in the tissue that covers the lungs and lines the interior of the chest. The majority of individuals who develop malignant pleural mesothelioma have a history of chronic exposure to asbestos.

Patients with advanced mesothelioma are often treated with chemotherapy in order to improve quality of life or duration of survival. Researchers continue to evaluate new combinations of chemotherapy drugs in order to improve treatment responses.

Alimta is a commonly used chemotherapy agent for the treatment of MPM. It is indicated for treatment of mesothelioma in combination with the chemotherapy agent Platinol® (cisplatin) among patients who are not eligible for surgery.

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The chemotherapy agent Paraplatin® (carboplatin) provides anticancer responses in similar ways to cisplatin, but is associated with fewer side effects. This prompted researchers from Italy to evaluate the combination of Alimta and carboplatin for the treatment of MPM in an attempt to reduce side effects while maintaining effectiveness.

This trial included 102 patients with MPM who had not received prior chemotherapy and who were not eligible for surgery. All patients were treated with the combination of Alimta and carboplatin. The combination proved effective:

  • Anticancer responses occurred in nearly 19% of patients.
  • Disease stabilization was achieved in 47% of patients.
  • Median time to cancer progression was 6.5 months.
  • Median overall survival was over one year (12.7 months).
  • Side effects were generally mild, with severe neutropenia (low levels of immune cells) or anemia (low levels of red blood cells) occurring infrequently.

The researchers concluded that the treatment combination consisting of Alimta and carboplatin provides an effective and well tolerated treatment regimen for patients with MPM. This treatment regimen may be of particular importance for patients with other existing medical conditions, or elderly patients for whom tolerability of treatment is an issue.

Reference: Ceresoli G, Zucali P, Favaretto A, et al. Phase II Study of Pemetrexed Plus Carboplatin in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2006; 24: 1443-1448.