A study presented at the 15th World Conference on Lung Cancer has provided controversial information. It indicates that when the patients who are deemed healthiest among mesothelioma victims undergo surgery, it does not provide an appreciable improvement in the patient’s survival rates.
The study was conducted in Italy and included data from almost 1,400 patients who were confirmed to have been diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The patients were treated over a thirty year period starting in 1982,. Nearly one third of them underwent various types of surgery, including pleurectomy decortication and extrapleural pneumonectomy.
The difference between the surgeries had no impact on the overall results that the study revealed. Other patients in the study did not undergo surgery, but were treated in other ways, including chemotherapy or a type of symptom management known as best supportive care.
Each patient included in the study was followed for at least a full year unless they died from their disease prior to that time period.
The median survival rate for those patients who were treated without surgery was 11.7 months, while those who went through the pleurectomy and decortication had a median survival of 20.5 months and those who went through the extra-pleural pneumonectomy lived an average of 18.8 months.
At first glance it seems as though the patients who did not have surgery were at a disadvantage, when their conditions at the time of diagnosis were factored in to the study, it was determined that the surgery didn’t a beneficial impact. Those patients who were considered to be in the best physical condition at the beginning of the study didn’t seem to have a better survival benefit.
The results present a surprise to patient health advocates and mesothelioma researchers alike, and scientists have indicated that further study is required before any decisions are made about changes in treatment of patients going forward.
If it turns out that surgery does not offer a significant advantage over palliative treatment, then patients who are concerned about the impact that surgery has on their quality of life may make the decision to forego operative procedures.