German Researchers Deem Heated Chemotherapy Safe Option for Pleural Mesothelioma

Heated chemotherapy administered following removal of cancerous tumors has long been viewed as an effective treatment for patients diagnosed with peritoneal malignant mesothelioma, but its use in pleural mesothelioma has not been as accepted. But physicians from the University of Munich recently completed a study that led them to conclude that the procedure, known as HITHOC, is a “safe therapeutic option” when patients are carefully selected.  

HITHOC Procedure Viewed as Effective and Safe

HITHOC stands for Hyperthermic Intrathoracic Chemotherapy, and its use in the treatment of pleural mesothelioma has been discussed for years as an option for patients who are already undergoing mesothelioma surgery. Though not all patients are good candidates, for those who are, the study found that the protocol provides longer survival time. 

Patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma have tumors that form in the pleural lining that surrounds the lungs. As the tumors grow, breathing becomes more difficult. Eventually the malignant cells metastasize throughout the chest, and eventually throughout the body. 

Pleural Mesothelioma Surgery is a Challenge

The median overall survival time for those diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma is generally shorter than that of those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, and this is due in large part to the challenge of surgical removal. Pleural tumors can work their way into irregular spaces within the chest cavity, making it more difficult for all of the malignant material to be removed. Using chemotherapy intraoperatively provides the opportunity to bathe any remaining cancerous cells directly with the heated chemotherapy liquid, thus extending the time between the cancer’s eventual return.

The researchers found that of the 71 pleural mesothelioma patients who had diseased pleural tissue removed and then had the HITHOC treatment, the procedure was most successful in those diagnosed with epithelioid mesothelioma. Those diagnosed with the rare and more aggressive sarcomatoid cell type lived about half as long, with the median survival for those with epithelioid tumors being 17.9 months and those with the sarcomatoid subtype living just 9.2 months. Successful removal of cancerous tissue was also an important indicator, with those who had complete resection experiencing a median survival of 28.2 months and those with incomplete resections having a median survival of less than half that amount of time.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma and you need more information on available treatment options, the Patient Advocates at can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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