Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has been used to treat some forms of cancer with good results since 2003. Known by some as light therapy, PDT uses a photosensitive drug to create oxygen. The oxygen kills nearby cells so when cancer cells have been targeted by the drug, these are destroyed. It is especially effective at eliminating cells missed after the surgical removal of a tumor. Recent studies indicate that PDT may be also effective at treating pleural mesothelioma.
Pleural mesothelioma accounts for 75% of mesothelioma cases. The disease occurs in the pleura, or lining of the lungs. The pleura is especially susceptible to mesothelioma because it captures minute dust particles. Under normal circumstances, inhaled dust is inert and causes no harm. However, this is not the case when the dust carries asbestos fibers. The form known as white or chrysotile asbestos is a known cause of respiratory disease. The asbestos fibers get trapped in the pleura and cause irritation. Over time, this irritation causes mesothelioma cancer cells to form. Once formation begins, the disease progresses rapidly. The life expectancy after diagnosis is a short 12- to 21-months. There is currently no cure.
PDT, or photodynamic therapy uses light to trigger cancer-killing drugs previously introduced into the body. It is most often used in conjunction with surgery, but may be used with other treatment programs.
The day before a cancer patient undergoes surgery to remove a tumor, doctors inject the drug into the bloodstream. The drug locates the cancer cells and attaches itself to them. After the surgery, the remaining cells are marked and the light is applied. However, the light is not evenly spread across all cells and often misses its mark. In addition, a specific light wavelength is needed to activate the drugs.
Possibly solving this problem, three researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have successfully used an infrared tracking camera to better target the light source. They could direct the proper light to the cells needing activation and monitor the results in real time using a 2D scanning system. Researchers believe this feedback process will enable treatment physicians to provide more uniformity to the pleura, killing more cancer cells therein.
Instances of pleural mesothelioma are high in Philadelphia and New Jersey. Although considered rare, pleural mesothelioma is more common in Philadelphia and New Jersey than in other parts of the country. This is because asbestos exposure in Philadelphia is higher than in other regions. The reason is the large manufacturing and industrial base in our area. Many factories continue to use asbestos their operation. Although asbestos is banned in some applications, many continue to be used, killing thousands each year.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, advances such as those occurring with PDT cannot happen fast enough. At Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler, we understand how devastating this cancer can be for families. We work hard to help victims of mesothelioma and asbestos exposure in Philadelphia and New Jersey by fighting those responsible. Contact us online or call 800-369-0899 today to schedule a free consultation with one of our dedicated Philadelphia asbestos lawyers.