Innovative Surgery Doubles Mesothelioma Survival Time
A new study showed that some of the most promising survival rates among mesothelioma patients ever. Those with epithelial malignant pleural mesothelioma who undergo surgery to remove the cancer but not remove the lung with the addition of photodynamic therapy and chemotherapy, had a median survival of 3 years. If the cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes, that rate more than doubles to 7.3 years. Median survival is the rate at which 50% of patients are still living. This is excellent news for families battling this cancer.
Patients undergo a surgical procedure to remove all detectable cancer from the pleura, which is a membrane that surrounds the lungs. The goal is to spare the lung and other structures such as the diaphragm or pericardium, which are often removed along with the lung in other surgeries. A Photodynamic therapy which uses photosensitizing agents with light to kill cancer cells that may not have been visible during the surgery is then administered. The chemotherapy regimen is often implemented after the operation.
Most of the patients researched were in Stage III or Stage IV of the disease. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare cancer that is often associated with a poor prognosis, especially in the advanced stages. This study shows that even late stage patients can benefit from surgical procedures.
Joseph S. Friedberg, MD, Director of the Mesothelioma and Thoracic Oncology Treatment and Research Center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine said, “These are among the best results ever published for patients with an epithelial subtype of pleural mesothelioma.” Of the cell types, epithelial mesothelioma is the most common and often has the best prognosis. The typical survival rate for those with mesothelioma is only 12 to 21 months. Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma.