Penn Researchers Initiate Ground-Breaking New Trials To Treat

(Philadelphia, PA) -- Surgeons and radiation oncologists at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center have recently initiated ground-breaking new protocols to treat locally advanced cases of lung cancer and mesothelioma for patients who are generally considered untreatable at other institutions. These new clinical trials are applying innovative combination treatments with photodynamic therapy (PDT) and surgery for patients who otherwise are not candidates for surgical treatment.

There is a significant population of patients with extensive lung cancer and/or mesothelioma -- cancer of the lining of the lung -- who will not benefit from surgical or other conventional treatments, typically because of the advanced degree of cancer spread, the nature of the cancer, or the location of cancerous tissue. The integration of photodynamic therapy in the field of thoracic oncology has created new treatment protocols which, in turn, have the potential to extend the lives of patients and improve their quality of life. Photodynamic therapy is a minimally-invasive treatment that uses a photosensitizer -- a light-activated drug -- to selectively destroy tumors. The drug is administered intravenously before surgery, allowing it to concentrate in the cancerous tissue. After surgery the patient receives laser light exposure directed at the tissue to stimulate the drug -- destroying the tumor cells by exposing them to an activated form of oxygen. In these cases, PDT is utilized after surgery to help eradicate any remaining cancer cells.

Through innovative combination treatments, Penn researchers are exploring new protocols and offering alternatives for thoracic cancer patients with severe, pre-terminal conditions. "Some ofthese patients have already failed other combinations of radiation therapy, surgery, and/or chemotherapy," explains Joseph Friedberg, MD, co-principal investigator and assistant profes

Contact: Diane Giaccone
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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