Patients diagnosed with unresectable pleural mesothelioma cancer throughout the United Kingdom will now have the immunotherapy combination of Opdivo and Yervoy (known generically as Nivolumab and Ipilimumab) after recent approval by the National Health Service for first-line treatment.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is one of the four main types of asbestos disease caused by extensive exposure to asbestos. It is a form of cancer and, as such, along with asbestos-related lung cancer, is the disease most feared by those awaiting a definitive prognosis of asbestos illness.
There is typically a latency period between 20 and 60 years between asbestos exposure, often in working life, and symptoms starting and subsequent mesothelioma diagnosis.
Workers were often exposed to asbestos during their working lives on building sites, in the insulation industry, when working on ships and during dock work.
There is currently no cure for mesothelioma (or ‘meso’ as it is commonly known). It is also an incurable illness that, once diagnosed, has a very short life expectancy – approximately 18 months if the patient has pleural (of the lungs) mesothelioma and two years or more for those with the rarer peritoneal (of the abdomen) meso. Mesothelioma can often develop after small amounts of asbestos dust are inhaled and become lodged in the lungs.
The early stages of mesothelioma often don’t cause any symptoms. So, it might be that someone with pleural mesothelioma has less than 12 months to live when they get a diagnosis. During this time, they have to try and come to terms with their predicament, make plans for their family’s future and make the best of the time they have left with one another.
What are the treatment options?
Whilst there is currently no cure for mesothelioma, immunotherapy can be utilised in the fight against trying to slow the progress of the disease and can extend life expectancy by months.
For many years, the standard treatment for mesothelioma normally involved chemotherapy which only had short-term effectiveness. Surgery is often not an option due to the late diagnosis of the aggressive condition.
In the recent UK trial, the likely survival rate was 18.1 months with immunotherapy compared with 14.1 months with chemotherapy, with a two-year surgical advantage of 41% as opposed to 27%.
“We are extremely pleased with this long-awaited decision,” said Nick Maskell, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Bristol. “It is brilliant news for mesothelioma patients and their families. The decision to approve this provides a new routinely available standard of care for NHS patients.”
It will come as comfort to those affected by the condition that these expensive treatment options are now available on the National Health Service as opposed to having to be funded privately.
Personal Injury Solicitors Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition such as mesothelioma, please contact us for a no-obligation review. If our industrial disease solicitors take your case on, we can offer a ‘no win, no fee’ funding arrangement.