According to results recently presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the chemotherapy combination consisting of Alimta® (pemetrexed) plus a platinum compound (Platinol® [cisplatin] or Paraplatin® [carboplatin]) has been confirmed as an active therapeutic regimen in the treatment of patients with previously untreated malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare cancer that develops in the tissue that covers the lungs and lines the interior of the chest. It is often caused by chronic exposure to asbestos. The majority of patients are not diagnosed until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage; treatment with surgery or radiation is not an option at this stage. Patients with this disease often experience symptoms, such as shortness of breath, cough, pain, fatigue, and an inability to eat, which lessen their quality of life.
Mesothelioma is fairly resistant to most therapies, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Therefore, finding a chemotherapy regimen or new therapeutic approaches that can improve quality of life or survival is essential for improving care for patients with this disease. Prior results have indicated that the chemotherapy combination consisting of Alimta plus a platinum compound provides significant anticancer activity in patients with newly diagnosed mesothelioma.
Researchers from Italy recently conducted a clinical trial further evaluating Alimta/Platinum compound in 745 patients with previously untreated mesothelioma. Patients in this trial were not eligible for surgery and were treated with Alimta plus Platinol or Alimta plus Paraplatin.
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- At one year survival was approximately 64% for both treatment groups.
- The median time to cancer progression was approximately seven months for both treatment groups.
- Overall anticancer responses were achieved in 26.3% of patients treated with Alimta/Platinol and 21.6% for those treated with Alimta/Paraplatin.
- Severe low levels of blood cells occurred more frequently among patients treated with Alimta/Platinol than those treated with Alimta/Paraplatin.
The researchers concluded that the combination of Alimta plus a platinum compound provides significant activity among patients with previously untreated mesothelioma. These results confirm earlier results providing the same information.
Patients with mesothelioma may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of treatment with Alimta and a platinum compound.
Reference: Santoro A et al. Pemetrexed plus cisplatin or pemetrexed plus carboplatin for chemonaive patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma: results for the international expanded access program. Proceedings from the 2007 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Abstract 7562.