Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a locally invasive malignancy, but only a minority of patients can benefit by surgical resection. Among chemotherapeutic agents only vinorelbine, edatrexate, gemcitabine and raltitrexed have demonstrated response rates >20%. The largest randomised trial in MPM showed an improved median survival with cisplatin and pemetrexed versus cisplatin alone from 9.3 to 12.1 months. For the present overview about 70 requests of information were sent to the major European centres of thoracic oncology. The most widespread study treatment in Europe is an 'Extended Access Program (EAP)' evaluating pemetrexed alone or combined with cisplatin or carboplatin with about 1500 enrolled patients. Two other international randomized studies compare pemetrexed plus best supportive care (BSC) versus BSC alone, and the role of Ranpirnase (Onconase) in MPM. Important national trials are ongoing: in the UK the addressed questions were the role of radical surgery (MARS Trial), the role of chemotherapy (MS-01 trial) and the role of VATS on active treatment of pleural effusion. In Switzerland the SAKK group phase III study explores in a comparative way the value of hemithoracic radiotherapy after primary treatment with cisplatin/pemetrexed followed by surgery. In Italy, 2 phase II trials of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (pemetrexed plus cisplatin in Rome, pemetrexed plus carboplatin in Padua) followed by surgery and radiotherapy are active. With the important exception of UK, the most evident element is the overwhelming presence of pemetrexed in the ongoing and future clinical trials. Pemetrexed has influenced not only the clinical practice, but also the patient enrolment in clinical trials.
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy
- Malignant pleural mesothelioma
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