Though malignant mesothelioma can strike any individual who has been exposed to asbestos, the median age of those diagnosed with the rare and fatal form of cancer is 72 years old. Many of these patients will require surgical interventions to either prolong their lives or relieve the significant pain caused by the disease. The results of a recent study on post-surgical geriatric care are of particular interest to all those providing care for this medically fragile population.
Should Mesothelioma Patients Receive Geriatric Care Following Surgery?
Mesothelioma patients undergo a variety of surgeries following diagnosis. Some have minimally invasive procedures to remove fluid from their lungs, while others are identified as candidates for aggressive surgeries that remove tumors. In some cases mesothelioma physicians recommend procedures that remove an entire lung and other tissues that the cancer has invaded.
Recovery from mesothelioma surgery is a challenge, which is why the benefits detailed in the study published in JAMA Network Open are so important. Researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City found that older patients undergoing cancer surgeries had their 90-day post-surgical mortality rate cut in half when they received specialized postoperative geriatric care. Mortality was reduced from 8.9% i those who strictly received standard post-surgery treatment to 4.3% for those who received geriatric co-management, despite the fact that both groups had similar experiences and health effects after their surgeries.
Post-Surgical Geriatric Care Provides Additional Services for Mesothelioma Patients
Though all patients undergoing mesothelioma surgeries receive attentive postoperative care, geriatric care adds additional support in the form of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and swallow rehabilitation and nutrition services. The study revealed that this additional intervention provides tremendous benefits for cancer patients who are 75 or older. Lead author Armin Shahrokni, MD also encourages that a geriatric pathway including universal frailty screening be added to preoperative planning.
Though the study did not specifically address the needs of mesothelioma patients, it did include nearly 1,900 patients having cancer surgeries of all types. Of these, 1,020 o had geriatric co-management and 872 strictly received care from the surgical service. Commenting on the findings, Nicole M. Saur, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and Isacco Montroni, MD, PhD, of Ospedale per gli Infermi in Faenza, Italy wrote, “The study by Shahrokni et al. suggests that a simple intervention of including a geriatrician in the care team may dramatically improve outcomes. “
If you or someone you love is being treated for malignant mesothelioma, access to up-to-the-minute information and resources is essential. For additional help, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.