Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union movement and right to health campaign. BANI has been working since 2000. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Doubts over asbestos cancer chemotherapy

Chemotherapy treatments which aim to prolong patients' lives and reduce suffering from asbestos-related cancer do not work, UK researchers suggest.

Mesothelioma, caused by asbestos exposure, is usually incurable, but some specialists hope chemo could delay death and improve quality of life.

The study in the Lancet found hundreds of patients saw no benefit.

However, a US expert said other combinations of chemotherapy drugs could work better.

Despite legislation controlling the use of asbestos, there are approximately 2,000 deaths from mesothelioma in the UK every year.

Any treatment can have serious side effects for patients and these findings highlight that people should not have treatment that is not of proven benefit
Kate Law Cancer Research UK

The decades-long delay between exposure and the onset of the disease, means numbers are expected to keep rising for at least half a decade.

Treatment for mesothelioma is aimed principally at reducing its symptoms, and hopefully slowing down the progression of the illness.

It is generally recommended that patients are given steroid drugs and radiotherapy sessions.

No proof

The latest study looked at 409 patients, mainly from the UK, who were all given these standard treatments.

Some were additionally given doses of chemotherapy, and the effect on their disease compared.

While the chemotherapy patients did live slightly longer on average than those given just standard treatment, the researchers said the finding did not represent statistical proof, and could be misleading.

There was no improvement in quality of life among the chemotherapy patients.

One of the authors of the study, Dr Richard Stephens from the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit, said: "While thousands are and will be affected by this deadly disease, our trial, which is one of the few large trials ever conducted in this disease, emphasises how difficult mesothelioma is to treat.

"This is mainly because mesothelioma forms in the lining of the lung. This makes it hard to target."

Kate Law, Cancer Research UK's director of clinical trials, added: "These results showed no real benefit from adding these chemotherapy drugs compared with just treating the symptoms of the disease.

"Any treatment can have serious side effects for patients and these findings highlight that people should not have treatment that is not of proven benefit."

However, one US-based expert said that results from other trials into chemotherapy had been more positive.

Dr Nicholas Vogelzang, from the Nevada Cancer Institute, also writing in The Lancet, said that different combinations of drugs had, in one study, meant that half the patients involved survived a year or more.


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