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FDA Approves New Combination Treatment for Mesothelioma

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Attorneys of Brookman Rosenberg Brown & Sandler provide information on mesothlioma diagnosis and treatment

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new combination treatment for mesothelioma patients. The treatment, which is a combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab, is the new first-line treatment for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. This treatment is historic since it is the first new drug regimen approved for mesothelioma in 16 years, according to the Mesothelioma Center. Similarly, it is only the second systemic therapy ever approved for this type of cancer.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The cancer is incredibly aggressive, and the average patient only lives up to a year after their diagnosis. There are several different types of mesothelioma, including pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma, and tunica vaginalis. However, the two most common types are pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Painful coughing
  • Lumps of tissue on the chest

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include the following:

  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Unexplained weight loss

Asbestos exposure is currently the only known cause of mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure can happen anywhere, however, most people are exposed to asbestos through their occupations.

What Do Studies Suggest About the New Treatment?

The combination treatment underwent an international phase III clinical trial before being approved. The study analyzed how the combination treatment compared to chemotherapy, and the results for the treatment were promising.

The study found that patients who received the combination treatment had a median survival rate of 18.1 months. Those who only received chemotherapy had a median survival rate of 14.1 months. Similarly, the two-year survival rate for the combination therapy was 41 percent, while the survival rate for chemotherapy alone was 27 percent. This indicates that the combination treatment had more success in treating the aggressive type of cancer.

The study also suggests that the combination treatment might be able treat mesothelioma subtypes. For instance, those with sarcomatoid or biphasic mesothelioma saw a significant improvement when using the combination treatment. The median survival rate for individuals with these subtypes is only about eight months, however, the new combination treatment increased the survival rate to 18.1 months. Similarly, those who only used chemotherapy treatments had a two-year survival rate of eight percent, while those who had the combination treatment had a survival rate of 38 percent.

The results are promising, however, the study shows that there are side effects related to the combination treatment. In fact, 23 percent of the participants chose to discontinue treatment because of adverse reactions. Over half of all of the participants chose to skip at least one dosage of the treatment combination due to negative side effects.

What Should I Do After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis?

Getting diagnosed with mesothelioma can lead to different emotions and financial burdens; however, contacting a lawyer can help alleviate financial stress. A lawyer can help with the expenses related to the diagnosis while holding guilty parties accountable for the victim’s diagnosis. A lawyer can also maximize damages for the victim.

After a diagnosis, the victim should contact a qualified lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer will first begin to investigate the victim’s asbestos exposure history. The victim should provide their employment and medical history to help aid in this investigation; this helps the lawyer find out which person or employer is considered liable for the victim’s diagnosis.

Once the lawyer determines who is liable, they will begin discussing the victim’s legal options. The victim and their lawyer can decide together how they will file the claim. Once this is decided, the lawyer will file the claim on behalf of their client.

What are the Different Ways to Receive Compensation?

There are several ways to receive compensation for a mesothelioma diagnosis. The form of compensation a victim receives depends on their case. For instance, it depends on their employment status, if the defendant is bankrupt, or if the victim’s case is taken to court. Each type has its own average compensation amount. Some common ways to collect compensation include the following:

Asbestos Trust Funds

Since most asbestos companies are bankrupt, they created asbestos trust funds to help compensate mesothelioma victims. In order to receive compensation from an asbestos trust fund, the victim must meet certain criteria. The victim can determine whether they qualify by talking to their lawyer.


Patients can also obtain damages through mesothelioma settlements. A mesothelioma settlement is when the defendant in a lawsuit offers an amount of money to the victim. The defendant can pitch a settlement offer before, during, or after the case goes to trial, however, the defendant will likely choose to do so before it is brought to court to avoid additional legal fees. The victim should consult their lawyer after receiving a settlement offer to determine whether it is fair and can suit their expenses.


If the defendant decides to go to trial, the jury will determine whether they are liable for the patient’s diagnosis. If they are liable, the jury will determine how much the defendant needs to give the victim to settle the case.

The amount of money awarded by the jury is typically determined by the victim’s losses, including financial and emotional losses. Similarly, the defendant may be responsible for punitive damages, which will increase the victim’s total payout. Patients often receive higher awards through lawsuits rather than settlements.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

A victim can also receive compensation for mesothelioma from a Workers’ Compensation claim. If the individual was exposed through their job, they can explore Workers’ Compensation benefits after their diagnosis.

Some employees are more at risk for mesothelioma than others, such as:

  • Construction workers
  • Asbestos miners
  • Asbestos plant workers
  • Boiler workers
  • Firefighters
  • Factory workers
  • Insulators
  • Industrial workers

Benefits for Veterans

A veteran can also file a claim with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Asbestos was frequently used to create equipment that was commonly found in the military. A military member’s prolonged asbestos exposure might lead to a mesothelioma diagnosis later in life. If a veteran is diagnosed with mesothelioma, they should contact a lawyer right away.

Why is it Important to Contact a Lawyer After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis?

A victim who is looking for compensation should immediately contact a lawyer after their diagnosis. A lawyer can help maximize damages and provide support after a mesothelioma diagnosis. A mesothelioma diagnosis is often challenging for a victim and their family. The patient should focus on spending time with their family instead of worrying about a legal battle.

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Help Clients Diagnosed with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

If you were recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should contact one of our dedicated Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. Our lawyers understand how difficult a mesothelioma diagnosis is for the patient and their family. We hold guilty parties accountable for dangerous asbestos exposure. If you are interested in exploring your legal options, contact us online or call us at 215-569-4000 for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.