Simmons Hanly Conroy Proud To Support Penn Mesothelioma Program

Dr. Joseph S. Friedberg, head of UPenn’s Mesothelioma program, recently had a study published that includes some good news for mesothelioma patients. The study results show that after more than two years of undergoing lung-sparing surgery with photodynamic therapy, 27 out of 38 (or 71 percent) of patients are still alive.

The average survival time after a mesothelioma diagnosis rate ranges from a matter of months to just over a year. The Penn Mesothelioma Program is using a lung-sparing approach that combines conventional treatments, gene therapy, t-cell therapy and photodynamic therapy.

It’s still too soon to tell how reliable the treatment can be; it’s only been two years, and much more research is needed. However, there are differences that make Dr. Friedberg’s procedure stand out.

One of the most aggressive ways to treat pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, is to perform a extrapleural pneumonectomy. That means the entire diseased lung is removed.
This is typically followed by chemotherapy or radiation. Dr. Friedberg, instead, has been leaving the lung. He spends anywhere from 10 to 14 hours stripping out the cancer while preserving the patient’s lung, then burns away any leftover, microscopic cancer cells with laser light therapy.

Laser light therapy, also known as photodynamic therapy, requires that the patient be injected with a liquid drug that makes cancer cells ultra-sensitive to regular light. When the drug is exposed to red light, it sets off a chemical reaction that destroys the cells, damages the blood vessels that feed the tumor and activates the immune system, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer news article.

Through this approach, Dr. Friedberg believes patients are better able to fight the cancer when or if it reoccurs, increasing the median survival rate of his patients. His study was published in the June edition of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

As a supporter of Penn’s mesothelioma program, we’re all very excited at the Firm that Dr. Friedberg and his staff are doing such important work for mesothelioma patients.

Read the summary of Dr. Friedberg’s newest study on malignant pleural mesothelioma.