Every cancer diagnosis is serious and requires immediate and experienced medical attention, but when it comes to treating malignant mesothelioma, it is essential that patients get the right care. A new study published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery has revealed an enormous difference in median survival outcomes between patients who are treated at low-volume cancer centers versus those who get treatment from physicians at high-volume, specialized cancer centers.
National Cancer Institute study shows low-volume centers fail to follow mesothelioma treatment guidelines
In a study titled “Disparities in Compliance with National Guidelines for the Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma,” doctors from Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai Medical Center determined that when patients are treated at low-volume treatment centers they are not as likely to be treated using the protocols outlined in the mesothelioma treatment guidelines.
Though patients may assume that all cancer centers provide the same treatments and results in the face of fatal disease, there is a significant difference in survival time between patients that do and do to receive the full complement of testing and treatment that so many researchers and physicians have worked so hard to establish.
Rarity of mesothelioma means physicians are unfamiliar with best practices
With only about 3,000 cases of malignant mesothelioma diagnosed each year, most physicians at low-volume cancer centers have never seen the disease outside of text books. As a result, they are not aware of testing between various cell types, nor are they aware that patients are best served by a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. They also are not likely to have access to the various innovative treatments that have been found to help.
With mesothelioma patients facing a grim prognosis, every additional day counts. The study shows that patients being treated at small, non-academic hospitals are experiencing median survival of just 10.2 months, while those receiving combination treatment at larger teaching hospitals have a median survival that is more than double that. According to lead researcher Fernando Espinoza-Mercado, MD, “There is a suboptimal compliance with national guidelines for the treatment of MPM, particularly in low-volume non-academic settings. Adherence to recommended surgery-based multimodal therapy is associated with an overall survival improvement.”
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and need more information on how to get the best possible outcome, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.