Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a devastating malignancy that until recently has had no effective treatment. Pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin entered routine clinical practice following reports of efficacy in 2003. We performed a retrospective analysis of all patients with malignant mesothelioma at a single institution treated with pemetrexed in any combination or as monotherapy between 2004 and 2007. During this period, 62 patients received pemetrexed-based chemotherapy for MPM, most of whom were male (87%), treated in the palliative setting (84%) and received pemetrexed in combination with a platinum agent (95%). Pemetrexed was found to be well tolerated and produced clinical benefit and response rates similar to other published studies for its use in MPM in the phase IV or community practice settings. Patients with progressive disease as their best radiological response had very poor outcomes, while patients with stable disease had similar outcomes to those with responses. We confirmed that survival after commencement of pemetrexed-based chemotherapy remains under one year in this group of patients, somewhat less than the survival reported in phase III trials that currently inform clinical decision making. Further research is required to identify those patients who might benefit from pemetrexed based on molecular predictive markers.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.