Are New Techniques in Radiotherapy Going to Help Asbestos Sufferers?

There is growing evidence from medical studies that new methods of radiotherapy may help to improve asbestos disease patients’ survival and their ability to cope with their conditions after undergoing surgery.

Radiotherapy has in the past failed to bring little comfort to sufferers of mesothelioma. While there have only been a handful of studies conducted on the effects of radiotherapy on mesothelioma, the results have either been inconclusive or show very little effect on the tumours.

Added to this, radiotherapy, or more specifically intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), is deemed to be a high risk method of treatment. This is generally due to the radiation target area in post-operative patients being irregular in shape, and critically, they can be very close to vital organs. Another risk involved is that there is a possibility as a result of the therapy the patient can go on to develop a fatal lung condition called pneumonitis, which is inflammation of the lung tissue.

There is also a high risk that in conjunction with chemotherapy, radiotherapy will expose the patient’s lungs to a higher level of toxicity.

One study carried out by Japanese doctors has led them to believe that they can deliver a safer method of radiotherapy treatment. They believe that they can achieve this by combining CT-scanning technology with IMRT. The claim is that this method can offer advanced precision when directing the radiation and allows different angles to be used to target the tumour

As a result of the study, the team claim that 95% of the targeted region was covered by the treatment and critically none of the asbestos disease patients went onto develop pneumonitis.

This is not the only study to raise new hope for asbestos disease sufferers. Another study, conducted recently by Italian doctors, found that proton-based radiotherapy was able to protect nearby organs while at the same time delivering increasingly higher doses to the tumours themselves.

This new method works by using a proton-based therapy, which charges the ions as highly as conventional electron-based radiology but instead these ions diminish quicker, thereby reducing any potential harm to the healthy tissue around the target area.

While there is no known cure for mesothelioma, the doctors believe that targeting the mesothelioma in this way can provide patients with more comfort.

Such studies have become part of a new drive to help ease the suffering of mesothelioma patients, and also assist in increasing our collective knowledge of mesothelioma’s course, development and potential treatments.

In concordance with the recent studies, there has also been an intention to question and understand more about the effect mesothelioma has and what radiotherapy can do. In particular a potential trial by the Manchester Lung Group aims to see whether preventative radiotherapy targeted at the chest wall should be offered to patients who have undergone an invasive procedure.

Another example comes from the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), who have finished gathering survey responses from radiation oncologists who treat lung cancer patients.

It is important to note that, while these results can show encouragement, patients are still likely to find treatment of this nature hard to come by, and it is not only still rare but also expensive.