When a person is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and informed that the condition is always considered terminal, one of the first questions that they ask is about how much time they have left. Now, a new visual tool created by cancer researchers at China’s Peking University may be able to provide a highly accurate answer, particularly following pleural mesothelioma surgery.
New tool could replace traditional TNM staging system
The tool that has traditionally been used to provide mesothelioma patients with a sense of how long they will live is the TNM, or Tumor Node Metastasis, staging system. It is this system that has led to people referring to their cancer as being Stage I, II, III or IV to indicate how far their disease has spread in their body. The higher the stage number, the less time people generally are thought to have to live.
But the Chinese researchers believe that there are other factors that impact how long a mesothelioma patient will survive, and that compared to calculating the predictive value of those other factors, tumor spread indicated after surgery provides “no significant association” to survival.
New system relies on U.S. database for development
In testing their theory, the Chinese researchers utilized information on mesothelioma patients and their treatment and survival from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) database. They built what they are calling a “nomogram,” a visual representation of mesothelioma survival that uses elements they consider top factors in predicting survival time. Those factors include:
- Subtype of mesothelioma
- Chemotherapy use
- Type of mesothelioma surgery
Looking at each of these factors and weighing them provided a unique method of evaluating each individual patient’s survival. The group tested their tool on 312 mesothelioma surgery patients and found it to be highly accurate. This tool should prove invaluable in planning and strategizing the most appropriate treatment for each patient’s physical status and needs. The group plans to develop the nomogram further so that it can be used on mesothelioma patients who have not had surgery.
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you need information about medical resources or any other help that may be available to you as you navigate your cancer journey, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today, at 1-800-692-8608.