The Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to make headline news across the country daily. However, people living with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are facing their own very real health challenges every day. This year as we recognize Mesothelioma Awareness Day on September 26, we are excited to report a promising new treatment for people diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Opdivo and Yervoy Combined Offer Hope

In October 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the combination of nivolumab (OPDIVO) and ipilimumab (YERVOY) as first-line treatment for adult patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma that cannot be removed by surgery. (1) According to the FDA, for those diagnosed with this type of mesothelioma, this combination of drugs seems to be helping people. (2)

One of the main findings of the clinical trial that led to approval of this new treatment was that some patients that received the new treatment are experiencing an improved overall survival rate compared to other treatment. (3) Presenters at an August 2021 seminar hosted by The Mesothelioma Center offered hope for many people living with this aggressive form of cancer linked directly to asbestos exposure.

About Opdivo and Yervoy

The combination of Opdivo and Yervoy is the first drug regimen the FDA has approved for treating mesothelioma in more than 16 years. It is only the second systemic therapy for treating this disease the FDA has approved. (4)

Opdivo and Yervoy are “both monoclonal antibodies.” Per the FDA, when these two treatments are combined, they improve your T-cell function, which decreases tumor growth. (5)

Opdivo Plus Yervoy Side Effects

As with any drug therapy, the FDA warns that you may experience side effects using Opdivo in conjunction with Yervoy including, but not limited to:

  • Fatigue.
  • Musculoskeletal pain.
  • Rash.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Nausea.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Cough.
  • Itching. (6)

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, ask your doctor if this treatment might be right for you.

Mesothelioma Can Be Lethal

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive, life-threatening cancer of the lining of the lungs. This cancer is “caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.” Thousands of Americans are diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma each year. (7)

Generally, overall survival if you are diagnosed with this disease is poor. The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin. The Opdivo and Yervoy clinical trial gives hope that the right treatment or combination of treatments may not only improve life expectancy, but may also add to your overall quality of life.

Asbestos Causes Cancer

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Asbestos is a carcinogen. Asbestos causes cancer. There is no such thing as a safe amount of exposure.

We have known for decades asbestos is dangerous. People get sick and die from asbestos exposure.

New Yorkers Are at Risk of Asbestos Exposure and Disease

Throughout much of the 20th century because of its special properties, asbestos was used as an inexpensive, fire-resistant component of construction materials. You could and still can find it in insulation, tiles, cement, and textiles.

Builders also used asbestos to insulate and fireproof skyscrapers, including the Twin Towers. When the towers fell on September 11, 2001, asbestos fibers used to fireproof the buildings filled the air. These fibers were part of the enormous cloud of dust and debris that covered hundreds of thousands of people in New York that day.

Everyone who breathed in asbestos fibers could potentially develop an asbestos disease sometime down the road. First responders, residents, downtown workers, and students have already been diagnosed with different types of cancer linked to the 9/11 attacks.

In addition, New Yorkers who renovate their homes and businesses need to be vigilant. Tearing down and opening up walls, particularly in older buildings, may release asbestos fibers.

Asbestos Diseases Take Years to Develop

Asbestos fibers, when released into the air and inhaled, can harm your body slowly, insidiously. Disease takes years to show itself, sometimes decades.

Breathing in just a small number of fibers can potentially lead to serious health complications years later.

About Mesothelioma Awareness Day

No matter what is going on in the world around us, no matter the national headlines, every September 26, Weitz & Luxenberg calls attention to Mesothelioma Awareness Day. We, and others in the mesothelioma community, come together to remind the public and raise awareness about the very real dangers of asbestos exposure and the deadly diseases it causes.

Sadly, asbestos exposure diseases continue to disproportionately strike the many people who have helped build this country and make it what it is — construction workers, factory workers, insulation manufacturers and installers, miners, railroad and automotive workers, plumbers, and firefighters.

Thankfully, researchers are finding new treatments to help improve a person’s life expectancy and quality of life. But effective treatments are only part of the answer.

For those of us in the mesothelioma community, the ultimate goal is finding a cure for this devastating disease. W&L encourages research until that day arrives.

W&L Advocates for Patients and Their Families

Weitz & Luxenberg opened its doors more than 30 years ago to help families facing the debilitating and destructive disease called mesothelioma. Since then, we have helped more than 55,000 families receive justice and the compensation they are due.

We are gratified to report that we have secured more than $8.5 billion dollars in verdicts and settlements on their behalf. And we have supported medical research that provides promising treatments.

We want to make it possible for victims of asbestos disease to enjoy greater quality of life, live longer, and spend as much time with their loved ones as possible.

  1. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2020, October 2). FDA approves nivolumab and ipilimumab for unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/resources-information-approved-drugs/fda-approves-nivolumab-and-ipilimumab-unresectable-malignant-pleural-mesothelioma
  2. Ibid.
  3. U.S Food & Drug Administration. (2020, October 2). FDA Approves Drug Combination for Treating Mesothelioma. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-drug-combination-treating-mesothelioma
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.

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