Patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma are immediately confronted with a host of important decisions. While some are highly personal, those involving medical care are made in concert with patients’ physicians, who provide essential information about the risks and potential outcomes of their choices. Among the decisions to be made is whether or not to undergo surgery. A recent study by physicians at the University of Pennsylvania has provided new information revealing the role that patient age plays in post-surgical survival.
The Older the Mesothelioma Patient, The Shorter the Post-Surgical Survival
The University of Pennsylvania researchers compared survival time for mesothelioma patients who had surgery and those who did not, analyzing their outcomes for contributing factors. In all almost 11,000 patient results were evaluated, with 8,598 patients not having surgery and 2,125 having undergoing either extrapleural pneumonectomy or pleurectomy/decortication. Regardless of which procedure was pursued, five percent of those who underwent surgery died within 30 days and almost 13 percent died within three months. Of those without surgery, ten percent died within 30 days and 25 percent died within three months.
Closer analysis of the mesothelioma patients who’d had surgery found that their age was the most significant factor influencing mesothelioma survival, followed by co-morbidities, being treated at a high-volume cancer center, and undergoing chemotherapy prior to surgery, but the most notable finding was that for every year of age, the risk of death following surgery went up. The authors wrote, “The patient (yearly) incremental increase in age conferred 2.0% (30 day) and 2.2% (90 day) increased risk of mortality.”
Age-Related Risks Present A Challenge to Mesothelioma Patients
Though at first glance it seems clear that mesothelioma patients who are of advanced age should forego surgery entirely, it is important to remember that approximately twice the percentage of patients die in the same time frames when they opt out of or are precluded from surgery. Each patient is different, has different health factors to be weighed, and their own unique opinions about the interventions they choose to endure in the last days of their lives. These decisions should be made in consultation with family, friends, spiritual advisors, and your medical team.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, it is important to have as much information as possible. For access to resources, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.