Patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma go through a rigorous staging and assessment protocol once their cancer has been diagnosed. The goal is to determine how advanced their cancer is, what their overall health status is and where the tumors are so that the best possible treatment plan can be put in place. One of the most important questions to be answered is whether patients are eligible for surgery, and if so, which of two procedures is best suited for their condition. A study conduced at Hyogo College of Medicine in Japan recently evaluated the impact of the less-aggressive of the two available surgeries, and has determined that though mesothelioma does return afterwards, most patients live at least a year after the procedure, and more than a third live at least three years afterward.
Evaluating Pleurectomy with Decortication Surgery for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleurectomy with decortication is a surgery that is frequently offered to patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Patients undergoing this procedure will have the pleural membrane that surrounds their lungs removed, as well as the membrane around the heart, part of the diaphragm, and any other tissue that is found to have been encroached upon by the cancer. The more aggressive surgery offered to patients with pleural mesothelioma is extrapleural pneumonectomy, which removes one of the lungs. It is a more controversial procedure as it has been shown to place the body under significant stress.
The Japanese study took a retrospective look at the outcomes of pleurectomy with decortication in 90 mesothelioma patients who had undergone chemotherapy prior to their surgeries. It found that the patients who survived for a full year without disease recurrence were also the patients most likely to experience longer-term survival.
Study Results Yield Important Data on Extending Mesothelioma Survival
Because mesothelioma is always considered a fatal disease, the goal of curative treatment is to provide the longest progression-free survival possible. Though 63 percent of patients in the study experienced recurrence of their disease, nearly 70 percent were able to go a full year before progression occurred, and 34 percent lived an astonishing three years before recurrence. With mesothelioma’s average survival following diagnosis well under two years, these are encouraging results.
In evaluating the success of the patients, the researchers noted that most patients’ treatment plans did not stop with surgery. Over 75% followed ther P/D procedure with more chemotherapy or with radiation therapy, and this appears to have had a significant impact. Writing on their findings, lead author Akifumi Nakamura, MD said, “Multivariate analysis revealed that post-recurrence treatment, performance status 0-1, and disease-free interval of >12 months were the independent, favorable, and significant prognostic factors of post-recurrence survival.”
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, it is important for you to have as much information as possible about the options available to you. For easy access to that information, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.