A remarkable study of mesothelioma patient survival times has identified specific characteristics that seem to portend longer survival times for those diagnosed with the rare form of cancer. The study’s results, which were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, has led to researchers suggesting that people diagnosed with the disease pursue further cancer screening and genetic counseling to aid them in making decisions about treatment protocols.
The mesothelioma research was a collaborative effort by scientists from New York University Langone Medical Center, the Hyogo College of Medicine in Japan, Stanford University, The University of Hawaii, and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.
The group studied dozens of mesothelioma patients over the course of several years and found that those who shared certain characteristics — including being under 50 at the time of their mesothelioma diagnosis, having a familial history of malignant mesothelioma, and either having previously been diagnosed with several types of cancer or having cancers linked to the BAP1 mutation — all lent themselves to significantly longer survival times. In fact, patients who were found to have BAP1 mutations and who were diagnosed at 54 years old had a median survival time of five years, while those without the mutation but who were diagnosed when they were just 45 had a median survival time of 9 years. Both examples represent survivals that are substantially longer than what most mesothelioma patients can expect.
“When compared with patients with malignant mesotheliomas in the SEER cohort [national database], median age at diagnosis (72 years), median survival for all MM stages (8 months), and stage I (11 months), were significantly different from the 79 patients with MM in the current study,” states the report.
One of the more interesting aspects of this specific report was the fact that a surprisingly large percentage of study participants had been unaware of a previous asbestos exposure – just 28 percent of the mesothelioma patients in the study had been cognizant of the possibility of being diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.
This study concluded that those who have undergone genetic testing and have tested positive for BAP1 and other genetic mutations would be well advised to seek genetic counseling, as they are at risk for other cancers beyond their mesothelioma.