Study Finds Common Surgical Antiseptic May Help Stop Mesothelioma Spread, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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Italian researchers say the antiseptic povidone-iodine (PVP-I) – also known as Betadine – has cancer-fighting properties that could help prevent regrowth of mesothelioma after surgery.

Eventually, all of the mesothelioma cells tested were killed by the PVP-I.

A study published in the European Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery and detailed by Surviving Mesothelioma finds that PVP-I (Betadine), the antiseptic used by surgeons to scrub their hands and to clean patients' skin prior to surgery, may have another use in the treatment of cancers like mesothelioma.

PVP-I is a stable chemical complex of povidone and elemental iodine. Since it was first sold in 1955, it has become the most popular topical iodine antiseptic. In addition to infection-fighting properties, PVP-I also has antineoplastic, or growth-preventing properties, making it potentially valuable as a way to help keep cancer from growing back after surgery.

To see if PVP-I could be a useful addition to surgical treatment of mesothelioma and to determine how much PVP-I is needed to suppress mesothelioma cells, researchers in Italy tested the solution on four different cell lines. The different mesothelioma cells were incubated in the lab in varying concentrations of PVP-I for 5, 10, 30, and 60 minutes and for 24 hours. After each incubation period, cells were tested for viability. For dead cells, the mechanism of death was evaluated.

The team found that that the antiproliferative properties of PVP-I varied widely between mesothelioma cell lines and were highly dependent on how much PVP-I was used and for how long. While a .1% concentration of PVP-I destroyed most of the cells in three of the mesothelioma cell lines in 10 minutes, the same concentration had no significant effect on the fourth cell line tested, which could only be suppressed with a higher concentration. Eventually, all of the mesothelioma cells tested were killed by the PVP-I.

The authors conclude that rinsing a patient’s open body cavity with PVP-I after mesothelioma surgery might be a cost-effective and simple way to keep the cancer from regrowing and spreading. They write, “If confirmed by larger studies, our findings suggest that the intrapleural irrigation with PVP-I in patients with epithelial or biphasic mesothelioma undergoing cytoreductive surgery might be applied in thoracic surgery practice to prevent neoplastic cell growth.”

The original article appears in the European Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery. (Fiorelli, A, et al, “Antineoplastic activity of povidone-iodine on different mesothelioma cell lines: results in vitro study”, January 6, 2014, European Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Epub ahead of print,

For nearly ten years, Surviving Mesothelioma has brought readers the most important and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. All Surviving Mesothelioma news is gathered and reported directly from the peer-reviewed medical literature. Written for patients and their loved ones, Surviving Mesothelioma news helps families make more informed decisions.

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Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthy
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