When malignant mesothelioma is diagnosed, one of the first steps that clinicians follow is the staging of the patient’s disease. This important step helps physicians better understand how far the cancer cells have spread within the body and is just one of many that helps to determine what protocol will serve the patient best. New research has indicated that another important piece of information in guiding patients’ healthcare team is the specific cell type of their mesothelioma, and that the determination of that cell type may preclude the use of chemotherapy in patients whose cancer has metastasized.
Study shows metastatic mesothelioma treatment should depend on cell type
The research was done collaboratively by clinicians from the University of Pennsylvania, Yale and M.D. Anderson. Their study looked at the difference in response to chemotherapy among mesothelioma patients identified as having three different histological cell types: epithelioid, sarcomatous and biphasic. The identification of these cell types is generally known to be an important indication of the aggressiveness of the patient’s cancer and the patient’s prognosis. This study takes that knowledge one step further in assessing how each one responds to chemotherapy as a treatment protocol.
Deciding between chemotherapy and supportive care
Mesothelioma patients whose cancer has metastasized to other parts of their body are already looking at a grim prognosis. As the cells travel away from the original tumor’s location, the patient’s options for treatment diminish, as surgery becomes less helpful. This leaves chemotherapy as the primary protocol. but after looking at the outcomes of 4,655 patients with pleural mesothelioma, forty-one percent of whom were diagnosed with disease that was metastatic, patients whose mesothelioma was determined to be epithelioid had a higher overall survival when chemotherapy was used. The same was not true of those whose metastatic mesothelioma was identified as sarcomatoid or biphasic. For those patients, the researchers suggest that a better choice may be to provide supportive care intended to ensure that the time left to them is dedicated to a higher quality of life. They summarize their study by saying that “careful patient selection in this population cannot be understated.”
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and need information about your care options, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.