Curtin University in Australia completed a study in an attempt to understand why some malignant mesothelioma victims succumb so much faster than others. Researchers discovered that certain immune cells, macrophages, actually work against the body’s ability to fight off cancerous tumors in elderly laboratory animals. The study postulates that the same dynamic is likely true in humans.
There are different forms of mesothelioma. The most common form of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma. This cancer develops in the lining of the lungs. Also, it accounts for around 75% of all mesothelioma cases. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma often affect breathing and the thoracic cavity(chest), and they can often be taken for problems related to other diseases, such as pneumonia, flu, or even lung cancer.
Mesothelioma Tumors Growth Study
The Curtin University researchers published the results of their mesothelioma study in the scientific journal Frontiers in Genetics. One of the authors of the study noted that the immune system plays a crucial role in eliminating cancer cells. However, the immune system deteriorates with advanced age.
During the study, researchers examined the role of immune cells in three-month-old mice. Three-month-old mice are the equivalent to an 18-year-old human. Therefore, 24-month-old mice are the equivalent to a 60 or 70-year-old human. Then, the researchers used an immunotherapy treatment to induce an anti-tumor response against cancerous cells. This process found that macrophages sabotaged anti-tumor responses in the elderly. This means that mesothelioma tumors in elderly mice were more aggressive and less responsive to immunotherapy.
The researchers also observed that elderly mice with mesothelioma suffered uncommon symptoms including weight loss, muscle wasting, and loss of appetite. Each of these can contribute to a patient succumbing to their cancer more quickly. The next step is examining if the cells researchers can remove the cells. They are hoping that these changes could help to inform treatments in elderly cancer patients specifically.
After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
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