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Less Invasive Treatment Proves Superior to Newer Surgical Approach

For patients suffering from malignant pleural mesothelioma, finding the most effective way to treat the various symptoms and complications of their illness is essential. However, because the disease is so limiting in terms of survival and quality of life, it is also important to find the method of treatment that allows the fastest recovery time and the lowest number of side effects. It is for this reason that researchers from the Department of Thoracic Oncology at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, United Kingdom undertook their recent study, the results of which were published in the June 14th issue of The Lancet.

The group examined the results of procedures done on 175 mesothelioma patients between October 2003 and January 2012. Patients were randomly assigned to one of two types of procedures for the treatment of pleural effusions, which describes fluid build-up between the layers of the lining of their lungs. Half of the patients were provided with a traditional treatment called talc pleurodesis, in which excess fluid is drained and the area that the fluid had occupied is then filled with talc to keep the layers from sticking together, while the other half of patients underwent a surgical procedure called Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Partical Pleurectomy, in which part of the lung lining is removed with the use of a video guide.

Analysis of the results experienced by both groups were eye-opening; the researchers determined that the newer, more invasive procedure had no significant improvement in patient survival rate, yet it left patients with a higher number of complications and longer hospital stays.

According to the study’s primary author, Robert Rintoul, MD, “Surgical complications were significantly more common after VAT-PP than after talc pleurodesis, occurring in 24 of 78 patients who completed VAT-PP versus 10 of the 73 patients who completed talc pleurodesis.” Patients undergoing VAT-PP were more likely to have respiratory complications and air leaks. They also required hospital stays that were twice as long as those of the patients undergoing the talc procedure. One-year survival rates for the two groups was extremely similar, with the talc pleurodesis patients showing 57% survival and the VAT-PP patients showing 52% survival. The talc procedure is also significantly less expensive. As a result, the researchers determined that VAT-PP is not a recommended course of treatment for pleural effusions caused by mesothelioma.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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