UK Study Shows Using Radiation Therapy to Prevent Mesothelioma Metastasis is Not Worth the Risk

Patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma require constant medical attention and intervention, and many of the treatments that they receive are invasive. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reveals that United Kingdom researchers examined whether prophylactic radiation of the chest wall would stop metastases from occurring along the path of these invasive procedures, but found that doing so as ineffective and made patients vulnerable to adverse side effects.

Invasive procedures risk spreading mesothelioma cells

When a mesothelioma patient experiences an accumulation of fluid in their lungs, the lung cavity needs to be breeched in order for it to be drained. Similarly, when a biopsy of tissue is needed, some type of instrument is inserted, whether it’s a long needle or via some other surgical procedure. And of course,  surgical removal of mesothelioma tumors is extremely invasive and involves cutting through multiple layers of tissues. These procedures often have the unfortunate side effect of seeding mesothelioma cells along the invasive path, which allows the disease to spread.

The researchers examined whether applying radiation therapy following an invasive mesothelioma procedure would stop the fast-growing cells from taking hold: they directed radiation to the path that various surgical or diagnostic instruments took during treatment of 375 mesothelioma patients being treated at 54 different hospitals. All of the patients had some kind of procedure that required an instrument being inserted though the chest wall: radiation was used on the chest wall of half of those patients.

Study shows prophylactic radiation provides no benefit

The researchers reported that there was no significant difference in the incidence of chest wall metastases between the group that had been subjected to prophylactic radiotherapy and those who had not, but that more than 62 percent of those who’d had radiation experienced an adverse effect called radiation dermatitis. In light of these results, they concluded that there was no reason to continue using prophylactic radiation on mesothelioma patients, as it did nothing to help prevent the spread of the disease while adding to the discomfort of many.

If you are a patient diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you need information about the various treatment approaches available to you, the Patient Advocates at can help. Contact us 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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