The prognosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma is poor, with a median survival time from diagnosis of 7 to 17 months. At present there is no standardized treatment of this neoplasia. Between July 1995 and January 1999, 22 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma were enrolled in our study. The characteristics of patients were: 16 men and 6 women; median age 61 years (range, 49–77 years); stage (according to Butchart): 8 patients stage I, 10 stage II, 2 stage III, and 2 stage IV; cytologic diagnosis in 5 cases and histologic diagnosis in 17 cases. The treatment consisted of mitoxantrone 10 mg/m2 intravenous (IV) or intrapleural (IPL), methotrexate 35 mg/m2 IV, and mitomycin 7 mg/m2 IV on day 1 and repeated every 3 weeks, with mitomycin in alternate cycles (MMM regimen). One complete response (4.5%) (42 months of duration) and 6 partial responses (27.3%) (5, 5, 7, 9, 14, and 19 months of duration) were achieved; the overall response rate (ORR) was 31.8% (95% CI, 12.4–51.3%); 7 patients were stable under this treatment (31.8%). According to the pathologic type, ORR for the only epithelial type was 39.9% (95% CI, 15.2–64.8%). Median time to progression was 6 months (range, 1–22). The overall median survival time was 13.5 months (range, 1–50); the median survival time of responders significantly differed from that of nonresponders (18.0 versus 8.5 months;p = 0.017). This treatment produced a considerable clinical benefit, with improvement of dyspnea (68.4%) and pain (33.3%); 15 of 19 patients (78.9%) with pleural effusion at the time of diagnosis showed an important reduction in pleural fluid during chemotherapy. Hematologic toxicity was the main side effect; World Health Organization grade III to IV of neutropenia, anemia, and thrombocytopenia were observed in 81.8%, 13.6%, and 22.7% of patients, respectively. From the data presented here, this regimen can be considered active in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Division of Medical Oncology, S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, Bologna, Italy
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Carmine Pinto, Divisione di Oncologia Medica, Policlinico S. Orsola-Malpighi, Via Albertoni 15, 40138 Bologna, Italy. E-mail: cpinto@orsola-malpighi. med.unibo.it