Durvalumab (Imfinzi) Immunotherapy for Mesothelioma

Durvalumab is an immunotherapy treatment for cancer and has been used previously to treat lung cancers and bladder cancers. Under the brand name of Imfinzi, medical researchers have tested this medication on a variety of different diseases including mesothelioma, a disease that most often occurs from exposure to asbestos. 

Clinical Trials

Durvalumab has been tested in a variety of clinical trials for different cancers including melanoma and lung, gastric and pancreatic cancers. Researchers found that patients who were treated for lung cancers showed the most promising results. This is a good thing for patients with mesothelioma because of the similarities between lung cancer and mesothelioma. During the clinical trial, researchers found that 62 percent of the patients who were studied responded well to this treatment, though this treatment failed to improve their survival rate.

What Does This Trial Include

When looking at the components of this trial, there were two different treatment interventions studied: patients were given either immunotherapy or chemotherapy. Immunotherapy works by boosting a patient’s immune system and helps with fighting off the cancer. Meanwhile, chemotherapy is a medication or a combination of medications used as a way of stopping, or at least slowing the growth, of the cancerous cells within the body. When researchers studied immunotherapy and chemotherapy, they found that the two forms of treatment worked successfully when used in conjunction with each other. This combination destroys the dormant cells and researchers hope that it will stop recurrence of cancer from happening again. 

Side Effects from the Treatment

Unfortunately, Imfinzi does come with its fair share of side effects. Patients taking this medication can often expect some milder side effects like constipation, fever, diarrhea, bone and muscle pain, fatigue and loss of appetite. There is also the more infrequent potential for some more serious side effects that your doctor will have to stay aware of. For example, difficulty breathing, infections, liver disease, kidney problems, skin problems, inflammation of the lungs and damage to your hormone glands have all rarely occurred. If you begin to experience any side effect, you should contact your doctor immediately to best determine how to proceed. 

What Can You Expect?

Learning what to expect can help to make treatment a little more tolerable. Often, patients will be given durvalumab in combination with two other medications: cisplatin and pemetrexed. Typically, this is scheduled as a three-week cycle. Another option if cisplatin cannot be given is carboplatin. 

If conventional treatment options fail, or another option is necessary, finding a clinical trial that will work best for you requires the careful guidance of your doctor. In this case, your doctor will make a recommendation and determination will be made about whether you qualify to participate in a specific trial.

You should always talk about this with your doctor and loved ones on the subject as well to get the best perspective.