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Quality of Life Key Consideration for Mesothelioma Patients

A recent study that was conducted by scientists at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, United Kingdom and delivered at the 15th World Conference on Lung Cancer has indicated that an invasive keyhole surgery called video-assisted thorascopic surgery, or VATS, does nothing to extend mesothelioma patients’ survival rates but does make a considerable improvement in their quality of life.

According to Robert Rintoul, M.D., one of the principal investigators, a randomized study of patients who had undergone VATS surgery and compared the results with those who had undergone a simpler talc pleurodesis found that though patients from both groups lived approximately twelve months following the surgery, those who had the additional partial pleurectomy that the VATS procedure entailed suffered far less from a build up of fluid in their lungs.

Patients suffering from pleural mesothelioma find that as the disease progresses and the tumor grows, their lungs fill up with fluid and they have a more and more difficult time breathing. Traditionally they have been treated with talc pleurodesis, a procedure in which a tube is inserted into the lung, fluid is removed and the lungs are reinflated, and then talc is inserted in order to provide temporary relief of the symptoms. When patients undergo the VATS treatment, the procedure is combined with the surgical removal of as much of the cancerous tumor as possible. The procedures are both considered palliative rather than curative, and patients who undergo VATS need to be in better physical condition because of the additional risks and side effects of the surgery.

Physicians and researchers reviewing this information have indicated that it is important to provide as much quality of life to mesothelioma patients as possible, but they must also take into account the additional risk, expense and recovery time that the VATS procedure involves. Hospital stays for those who had the VATS procedure were on average two days longer than those of the patients who had the simple talc pleurodesis, and the costs were substantially higher for the patients who had surgery. But for most physicians listening to the presentation of results that was made at the 15th World Conference on Lung Cancer, the lack of difference that the procedure made in the overall survival rates paled in comparison to the ability to provide their patients with an improved quality of life for the time that was remaining to them.

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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