Mesothelioma is a highly aggressive and rare form of cancer that usually results from previous asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that has been used for hundreds of years, within thousands of different products for a variety of industries.
It is only recently that any treatments were available for mesothelioma other than the traditional radiation and chemotherapy. In the majority of cases, these treatments were not able to treat or cure the mesothelioma. Instead, these forms of treatment have only been able to shortly extend the patient’s life and add to their comfort.
However, recently there have been more promising breakthroughs in the realm of mesothelioma treatment. Fortunately, surgical and tri-modal treatments are beginning to become more advanced, surpassing previous boundaries. Additionally, research is currently being done to determine a method by which mesothelioma can be prevented before it even occurs.
During March 2010, researchers in the Netherlands studied a mesothelioma vaccine and determined that the preventative measure was safe for additional trial. This vaccine, which is based upon immunotherapy treatments, consists of the infusion of dendritic T-cells that are present in the immune system of the body, used to produce antigens that fight mesothelioma. This makes it possible for individuals to fight the disease without the help of other treatments, which utilize foreign cytotoxic materials.
The study, conducted by Dutch researchers, determined that of the 10 patients who were studied and tested with the vaccination, the majority went on to produce a specific T-cell response against tumors related to mesothelioma. This confirms that the vaccine may be a definitive improvement in the prevention and treatment of the malignant form of the mesothelioma cancer. Although all of the patients who were used in the study already had mesothelioma tumors and reacted well to the vaccine, the ultimate goal is that the vaccine will act as a means of cancer prevention. In this way, the cancer can be avoided prior to needing treatment.
So far, there is little evidence that suggests mesothelioma can be caused in great numbers by substances or conditions other than exposure to asbestos. Since the 1970s, manufacturers of asbestos have been aware that the product is a highly hazardous substance, which has been further substantiated by the high rate of mesothelioma diagnoses after exposure. A vaccine might prove tremendously valuable to those individuals at the highest risk of asbestos exposure, like those in professions and trades that work directly with asbestos materials.