Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bevacizumab Shows Promise in Treatment of Mesothelioma

For malignant pleural mesothelioma patients ineligible for surgery, treatment options are very limited. For the last ten years, the go to treatment has been chemotherapy utilizing pemetrexed and cisplatin, but that may be about to change due to promising new data from the French Cooperative Thoracic Intergroup (IFCT).

At the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2015 Annual Meeting, IFCT presented the results of a MAPS study in which pemetrexed and cisplatin, the current standard of care for mesothelioma were supplemented with bevacizumab and according to IFCT, showed (significantly) longer overall survival.

The MAPS study was randomized with 225 patients receiving the standard pemetrexed and cisplatin, and 223 patients receiving the triplet therapy of bevacizumab, pemetrexed, and cisplatin. Both groups in the study received six cycles of treatment, with Bevacizumab administered at a dose of 15 mg on day 1 of each cycle. At the end of the six cycles, the patients receiving the triplet continued to receive bevacizumab alone until there was a recurrence of disease. 75% of participants in the study were male with an average age of 65 years, disease histology among participants was 80% epithelioid.

Overall survival for patients receiving bevacizumab was 18.8 months compared with those only receiving pemetrexed and cisplatin at 16.1 months. Patients receiving bevacizumab also experienced longer time before disease recurrence, 9.6 months compared to 7.5 months for those on pemetrexed and cisplatin alone.

Anna Nowak, PhD, of the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, Western Australia, who partook in a discussion of the study was more circumspect. "The results of the MAPS trial were eagerly awaited," she said, but she was cautious in endorsing it as a new standard of care, because it appeared that long-term OS (overall survival) may be an issue when one looked at the "tail end" of the OS curves.

Natasha Leighl, MD, from Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto, Canada, said that this data was "practice changing" for patients with mesothelioma, but noted that the drug is expensive.

"Its uptake may vary with geography particularly when the data are considered in the context of health economics and effectiveness," Dr. Nowak said. "Demand for a new standard of care will exist irrespective of the cost."

Read the article here.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mark Your Calendars! Register for PMC’s 4th Annual 5k Walk/Hike for Meso and Get Fundraising!

Worthington & Caron is pleased to announce that it will again serve as lead sponsor for the 4th Annual 5k Walk/Hike for Mesothelioma on September 27th, 2015 at the Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, California. The scenic walk/hike route is family and dog friendly, so bring your little ones and your pooches!

The event is hosted by The Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC) at the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (PHLBI), with 100% of proceeds supporting PMC’s much-needed research for a cure for mesothelioma.

In years past, over 300 participants have joined with PMC to tell Meso “to take a hike!” “This year, we expect more than 400 participants to walk in solidarity to honor those who have lost the fight against mesothelioma and to raise money for research.” Clare Cameron, Executive Director of PMC said. “To date, PMC has raised over $5 million in the campaign to fund new research in the fight against mesothelioma.”

Last year’s event raised over $100,000; and in 2013 over $75,000 was raised. This year, with your help, we can break the record and raise even more!

Registration is $35 per person if you register before September 25, 2015. Day of event registration is $40. Participants will receive a t-shirt, enjoy live entertainment and a lunch catered by Ottavio's Ristorante Italiano. There will also be a raffle and silent auction with GREAT prizes!

The Paramount Ranch is located at 2903 Cornell Road in Agoura Hills. Registration will open at 9 a.m., with the walk/hike beginning at 10 a.m. You can walk as an individual, or start a team.

Register today, and don’t forget to start fundraising!

For more information, sponsorship opportunities and to register please visit PMC’s DoJiggy page, or contact Clare Cameron at 310-478-4678, or via email:

Take a look at past year’s events! 2014, 2013, 2012

India Continues to Deny Dangers of Asbestos

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, India continues to deny the dangers of asbestos. India’s $2 billion asbestos industry imports over 400,000 tons of asbestos a year, making it the world’s biggest importer of the deadly mineral.

The World Health Organization reports that 107,000 people die worldwide every year from exposure to asbestos, but India’s industry officials dismiss the WHO’s “claims” as rubbish, saying the statistics are meaningless. Even India’s top official in charge of hazardous materials and chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board denies there is any credible data showing that asbestos isn’t safe. Oddly enough, India banned the mining of asbestos some 30 years ago.

India can deny all they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that asbestos is indeed dangerous and deadly. Due to a lack of public awareness, poor record keeping, and poor enforcement of safety laws, it is hard to know how many of India’s citizens are getting sick. But as the country’s use of asbestos continues, the situation will only get worse.

Read more here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Putting Out the Fire: Working Toward a Strategy to Kill Mesothelioma if it Recurs

Mesothelioma can be like a campfire that won’t go out.

Even with the best surgical technique, chemotherapy and radiation, every doctor worth his or her salt will tell you that none of these therapies – alone or combined – will always put out the fire completely.

You can pour water on it, stomp on it and try to smother it, but no matter how diligent you are, the odds are if you dig deep and look hard enough you’ll find a glowing ember. Over time, that ember can eventually catch fire and spark a wildfire.

The word for that is “recurrence.”  As in, we’ll slash, poison or burn as much tumor as we can see, but after it’s all said and done there will still be micro-tumors seeding in your chest, which can eventually grow into a bigger tumor.

That’s not comforting. What is comforting is knowing that smart people are working on strategies to knock down recurring tumors before they can spark a wildfire. 

I’m pleased to continue supporting this important research initiative with another $100,000 donation to the Pacific Mesothelioma Center.  The scientists and doctors at PMC have developed a novel way of treating mesothelioma recurrences with cryoablation. The strategy involves delivery of compressed argon gas through a needle which freezes and kills the tumor cells on contact. The treatment is minimally invasive and can be done on an outpatient basis.

Cryoablation is currently being used to treat mesothelioma recurrences at the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Centers at both UCLA Medical Center and the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration Medical Center
PMC is researching ways to enhance the effectiveness of cryoablation by combining it with cancer vaccines.   

At Worthington & Caron, we see every day the stress endured by mesothelioma patients. Not only do they have to worry about finding the right doctors to treat their cancer, they also have to contend with the probability that even if all goes well, they’ll still need to deal with a recurrence.

Mesothelioma patients are fortunate to have access to the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Centers at UCLA and the West Los Angeles VA. Doctors at each venue are uniquely qualified to both put out the fire, and knock it down again if it flares up down the road. 


Roger Worthington