Though malignant mesothelioma is always considered a fatal form of cancer, advances in the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma – which affects the lining of the abdominal cavity – have offered significant improvements in survival. A group of researchers from the National Institutes of Health recently published an overview that summarized the current state of knowledge.
Improved Understanding of Peritoneal Mesothelioma Extends 5-Year Survival Rates
According to the study published in the journal Digestive Medicine Research, advances in understanding of peritoneal mesothelioma tumor pathophysiology have led to treatments that yield a more encouraging five-year survival rate. The researchers write that cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) are the standard of care for those who are eligible for the innovative procedure. This approach has improved prognosis to a median survival of 30-100 months and an overall 5-year survival of 40-70%.
While surgery and HIPEC have yielded impressive results, patients whose tumors are not eligible for surgery continue to experience results that the authors describe as “dismal.” Because malignant peritoneal mesothelioma has proven to be so resistant to systemic chemotherapy, median overall survival with the combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed has shown median overall survival of just 12.1 months. Still, this is an improvement over therapy with just cisplatin. There is some hope for adding monoclonal antibodies or immunotherapy treatments to this combination, but more study is needed.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma’s Vague Symptoms Make Diagnosis a Challenge
The study indicated that of the 500-800 new cases of peritoneal mesothelioma that are diagnosed in the United States each year, patients tend to be younger than is true of those with pleural mesothelioma, with a median age of just 63 versus 71. Most patients are diagnosed when their disease is already advanced, in large part because the symptoms of the disease are so vague and diagnosis takes longer.
Typical symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include abdominal pain and bloating, along with weight loss, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Once the disease is suspected, patients are generally diagnosed using computed tomography, as well as through the presence of specific biomarkers and diagnostic laparoscopy to obtain tumor biopsies.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can provide you with helpful resources to help you with your journey. For more information, contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.FREE Mesothelioma Packet