The annual World Conference on Lung Cancer was held last week in Barcelona, Spain, and among the topics covered by international researchers and presenters was a little-discussed reality in treatment disparities among patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Emanuela Taioli, MD, director of the Institute for Translational Epidemiology and the Center for the Study of Thoracic Diseases Outcomes at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, presented research on survival among surgically treated mesothelioma patients to her colleagues at the conference, and later discussed her findings with journalists.
Noted researcher interviewed following presentation of research
An article published in the publication Oncology Nursing News® provides a window into Dr. Taioli’s conclusions on her team’s findings. She made clear that patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma have a grim prognosis and brief period of survival following diagnosis no matter what treatment protocol options they are provided. But she also found that there is a disparity in the treatments provided to black patients in the United States and white patients.
Dr. Taioli indicated that the treatment of choice for malignant mesothelioma is generally chemotherapy with radiation and surgery, and that when patients don’t have surgery their survival time is even shorter than the already-abbreviated median survival time seen in the general population. She said that when patients have chemotherapy alone, they frequently develop a resistance to it, forcing an interruption of treatment.
Study finds pervasive racial disparities in treatment of mesothelioma
In comparing the number of times that surgery was chosen by black patients diagnosed with mesothelioma to the number of times it was chosen by white patients, Dr. Taioli found that black patients undergo surgery far less frequently. She also found that when black patients do have surgery, it is generally of a less invasive type than the surgeries performed on white patients.
Though the reasons for these differences are unclear and deserving of further study, Dr. Taioli offers a few theories. One is that black patients may not have access to surgery in the same way that white patients do. This may be due to a lack of medical insurance or a presence of comorbidities that make surgery unsafe. There is also the chance that black patients have cultural or personal reasons for not pursuing surgery. She hopes that earlier diagnosis and outreach will help more patients get the most appropriate treatment available, regardless of access to insurance.
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, getting the right care as soon as possible is essential to extending your survival time. For information on access to care and more, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.