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Study Identifies Nonexpandable Lung As Predictor of Mortality in Mesothelioma

Nonexpandable lung is a symptom that is commonly experienced by patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. The condition is characterized by the patient being unable to expand their lung to the chest wall, and therefore to breathe in and out normally, and it can be caused by both inflammation and by fibrotic changes within the chest cavity. A group of researchers from the University of Bristol Medical School in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland recently studied the phenomenon in patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, and discovered that the presence of nonexpendable lung in those afflicted by the rare and deadly form of cancer is an accurate independent predictor of patient mortality.

Condition increases shortness of breath and coughing

Writing in the scientific journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, the researchers say that unexpandable lung, which is usually identified when the removal of pleural fluid doesn’t result in the lung returning to its original ability to expand, tends to increase symptoms such as shortness of breath and coughing in mesothelioma patients. In observing those diagnosed with mesothelioma, the group set out to determine how common it was in patients, and what the condition’s impact is on survival.

Nonexpendable lung viewed as indicative of shorter survival time

They evaluated 229 patients treated at a single malignant mesothelioma center between 2008 and 2017, the majority of whom were classified as being either fully active or restricted from strenuous activity but still able to do light work. Out of the entire group, 83.8% had pleural effusion, and 33.3% of those were diagnosed with nonexpendable lung, with the majority of that group’s reduced area of lung expansion showing as waller than their area of pleural effusions. Those with nonexpendable lung were more prone to breathlessness and cough but complained less of chest pain.

The researchers found that for the entire group diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the median survival time was 11.1 months. Though their initial assessment showed no association between survival time and the presence of nonexpendable lung, adjusting their data for whether patients had pleural effusions or not showed a direct relationship between nonexpandable lung and mortality. The researchers concluded, “This is the first study to describe the prevalence and clinical implications of nonexpandable lung in mesothelioma. It demonstrated that [nonexpandable lung] is a relatively common phenomenon that is associated with significant symptomatology and shorter survival.”

Understanding what your specific mesothelioma symptoms mean is essential to understanding the options available to you. For more information on malignant mesothelioma treatment and other resources, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.


Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an experienced blog writer, editor, and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of expertise include health, medical research, and law.

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