It is no wonder that people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma feel so overwhelmed. Faced with a grim prognosis, they are asked to make multiple important decisions in an extremely short period of time: they need to decide how aggressively they want to treat their illness and where they want to receive treatment. They have to decide how they want to spend the last years or months of their lives and what they want to prioritize. They have to decide whether to pursue a lawsuit against the asbestos companies that are responsible for their exposure to asbestos and subsequent illness. And those are just the big decisions. They also have to make dozens of small decisions about their care. A recent study may have eliminated the need for one medical decision, as researchers have found that prophylactic radiation therapy that has frequently been suggested prior to invasive procedures provides no real protective benefit, while introducing a risk of harmful side effects.
Researchers Aim to Investigate Whether Prophylactic Radiotherapy Works
The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, examined the use of prophylactic radiotherapy on patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma prior to or immediately after invasive chest wall procedures. The protocol has been used to protect against the risk of tumor-cell seeding, a phenomenon that sometimes occurs when invasive procedures allow malignant cells to be deposited along the path taken by the surgeon, and which can lead to further metastases. Though studies have previously been conducted to prove or disprove the effectiveness of radiation therapy at preventing this from occurring, those studies have provided contradictory results and have been problematic for numerous reasons.
Study Shows Little Benefit to Prophylactic Radiation
The most recent study was conducted on 375 patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. the group was split into those who did and did not receive prophylactic radiotherapy after a diagnostic or therapeutic chest wall procedure. Roughly the same percentage of patients in each group also received chemotherapy after the procedure. What the researchers found was that there was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of the incidence of chest wall metastases at both six months after the procedure and 12 months after the procedure, though a high percentage of those patients who received the radiation did experience skin toxicity. With no real benefit shown from the protocol, the researchers are recommending against this additional step being taken and subjecting patients to an unnecessary discomfort.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you need information about other clinical options, we are here to help. Contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.