Expert Point of View: Stefan Zimmermann, MD

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Stefan Zimmermann, MD

Mesothelioma has been the focus of a graveyard of negative trials,” said ­Stefan Zimmermann, MD, Senior Oncologist at the Hematology/Oncology Clinic, HFR Fribourg– Cantonal Hospital, Fribourg, Switzerland, during the ESMO 2014 Congress.

“The epidemiology of mesothelioma is complicated, with a long latency period of about 20 to 30 years from asbestos exposure and the emergence of cancer. Oncologists have been looking for a very long time for effective local therapies, including surgery, intrapleural chemotherapy, and various types of radiation. Intravenous chemotherapy had limited effectiveness, but so far it is the only treatment modality with any evidence-based benefit,” Dr. Zimmermann continued.

“None of the local treatment modalities has been able to provide clinically meaningful benefit to patients,” he added. “Local therapy won’t save the day, and this study is another signal that we need to improve the systemic approach.”

More recently there is interest in immunotherapy, and immune checkpoint inhibitors are actively being studied in Europe. “Perhaps immunotherapy can make a difference,” he said. ■

Disclosure: Dr. Zimmermann reported no potential conflicts of interest.

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