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Immunotherapy for Mesothelioma

Posted by Michael Throneberry | May 03, 2023

Immunotherapy is one of the ways to treat mesothelioma. This treatment method uses the patient's immune system to fight mesothelioma cancer cells. Immunotherapy works by strengthening or restoring the immune system's ability to fight cancer. Mesothelioma immunotherapy, also at times called biological therapy, has been proven to improve prognosis and extend life expectancy. Read on to learn more about mesothelioma immunotherapy.

What is Immunotherapy and How Does it Work?

Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses or alters cells from the immune system. During immunotherapy, medications are used to help the immune system fight mesothelioma. In 2020, the FDA permitted the combination of Opdivo and Yervoy as an initial treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma. Opdivo and Yervoy work by helping the immune system find and destroy cancer cells.

Forms of Mesothelioma Immunotherapy: Active vs. Passive Immunotherapy

There are two main forms of mesothelioma immunotherapy. These are active and passive immunotherapy. Active immunotherapy is when the patient's body creates antibodies. It is when the patient's immune system fights the cancer cells. On the other hand, passive immunotherapy is when artificial immune cells provide protection. It is when a mesothelioma patient is given cancer antibodies grown in a lab because their immune system can't generate antibodies.

Types of Mesothelioma Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is further divided into different types. It is best to allow a mesothelioma specialist advice on which type of immunotherapy is best. The following are the different types of mesothelioma immunotherapy;

  • Cancer vaccines: These work with the immune system to teach the body to destroy cancer cells
  • Cytokines: Proteins that help the body increase the immune response to cancer cells
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors: These work by turning off checkpoint proteins so cancer can be destroyed
  • Monoclonal antibodies: These work by targeting a particular site inside a cancer cell

A crucial part of the immune system is how it can avoid going for normal body cells. In order to avoid attacking normal body cells, the immune system uses proteins on immune cells called “checkpoints,” which need to be activated or deactivated. For a response to happen, checkpoint proteins need to be deactivated. Sometimes, cancer cells prevent checkpoint proteins from deactivating. Drugs targeting checkpoint proteins, known as checkpoint inhibitors, can help restore the immune response against cancer cells. The following are some checkpoint inhibitors for treating mesothelioma;

  • Pembrolizumab (Keytruda)
  • Atezolizumab (Tecentriq)
  • Durvalumab (Imfinzi)
  • Cemioimab (Libtayo)
  • Avelomab (Bavencio)

Side Effects of Mesothelioma Immunotherapy

Side effects of mesothelioma immunotherapy vary depending on various things, such as the type of drug or drug combination, how it is given, and the patient's overall health. That said, the following are some of the common side effects of mesothelioma immunotherapy;

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Mouth sores
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Weight loss
  • Skin problems

Side effects can occur during, immediately after, or some days or weeks after immunotherapy. It is crucial to report any side effects to the healthcare team. And the sooner side effects are reported, the better.

Arizona Mesothelioma Lawyers

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced Arizona mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.

About the Author

Michael Throneberry

Attorney Michael Throneberry graduated from Purdue University with a Civil Engineering degree. He then served with the United States Army...

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