Study Reveals Lack of Understanding of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects people exposed to asbestos. The disease strikes the mesothelium, an organ that lines many other organs in the body, allowing them to move freely next to one another without sticking. Though mesothelioma manifests most frequently in the pleural cavity where the lungs are contained, it can also occur in the abdominal, or peritoneal, cavity and other locations. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky has concluded that there are significant differences in characteristics of patients with peritoneal mesothelioma and pleural mesothelioma, and that learning more about peritoneal mesothelioma may improve treatment strategies for both.

Study Analyzes Survival of 8,668 Mesothelioma Patients

The researchers from the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology of the James Brown Graham Cancer Center at the University of Louisville Hospital set out to compare clinical characteristics and survival outcomes between patients with peritoneal mesothelioma and pleural mesothelioma. To accomplish this goal, they used data from the National Cancer Database, extracting information on all patients diagnosed with either malignant pleural mesothelioma or malignant peritoneal mesothelioma between the years 2010 and 2015.

The information on the two groups of mesothelioma patients was compared to determine as much demographic information as possible, as well as the clinical characteristics and unadjusted overall survival for members of the two groups. They determined that of the 8,668 total patients, 12.5% had peritoneal mesothelioma and 87.5% had pleural mesothelioma. 

Key Demographic Differences Between Peritoneal and Pleural Mesothelioma Patients Identified

In analyzing the differences between the two groups of mesothelioma patients, the researchers found that the cohort diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma were notably younger, with a median age at diagnosis of 61 compared to pleural mesothelioma patients median age of 73. The peritoneal mesothelioma patients had twice as many females as did the pleural mesothelioma group, and also had a lower comorbidity score. More of them were unsured, though the percentage of uninsured patients in each group was under 5%, and peritoneal mesothelioma patients were less likely to be treated at a community or comprehensive community center. 

Perhaps most notable of all were the clinical differences between the two groups of mesothelioma patients. The peritoneal patients had a much lower proportion of the sarcomatoid or biphasic histology known for having worse prognoses, and were more likely to have surgery and chemotherapy, but less likely to receive radiation. The median overall survival for peritoneal mesothelioma was more than twice as long as that of patients with pleural mesothelioma, with a 19.7-month overall survival for peritoneal mesothelioma patients and only a 9.4-month overall survival for pleural mesothelioma patients.  The researchers concluded that there is a lack of data about the clinical characteristics and outcomes of peritoneal mesothelioma, and that what is known comes from data about the more commonly diagnosed pleural mesothelioma. Much more needs to be learned.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with either malignant pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma, the Patient Advocates at can connect you with the care and resources you need. Contact them today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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