Mesothelioma and Immunotherapy

27 September 2017

Life expectancy for someone diagnosed with mesothelioma is on average between 6-18 months. Although there are treatments currently available which can keep symptoms under control and improve life expectancy these treatments often come with side effects. However, there is real hope for patients in the field of immunotherapy.

Traditional treatments

If mesothelioma is diagnosed in the early stages it can be treated by surgery followed by chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a combination of both. If the disease is more advanced then only chemotherapy or radiotherapy may be appropriate.

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer (cytoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs circulate through the body’s bloodstream and are administered through a drip. Radiotherapy on the other hand uses high energy waves to kill cancer cells.

Surgery may be appropriate to remove as much of the tumour as possible to relieve symptoms and is often referred to as palliative surgery or ‘debulking’.

These treatments can cause fatigue, pain, nausea and vomiting, hair loss, nerve damage to name a few. Often a patient will be required to weigh up the potential benefits of treatment against the side effects they will endure.


This year has seen the start of many new ground breaking immunotherapy trials at Southampton, Leicester University and Papworth hospitals.

Immunotherapy drugs empower the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer.  Pembrolizumab (also known as Keytruda) targets PD-1 and PD-L genes which can allow tumours to get past the immune cells.

It is reported that there are relatively few side effects associated with immunotherapy meaning that it has the potential to be used to treat mesothelioma patients whose disease is advanced.

In our article dated 7 August we highlighted the positive impact that immunotherapy treatment had on Mavis Nye who had been diagnosed with Mesothelioma in 2009. She is now considered to be cancer free and spends her time raising awareness of this disease.

Anyone wanting more information on clinical trials can find more information at Mesothelioma UK.

Anyone pursuing a legal claim for their mesothelioma should consider with their legal team including the cost of immunotherapy on a private basis in their claim as it is not currently available on the NHS.



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

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