If you or a loved one has received a mesothelioma diagnosis, trying to beat the odds and live as long as possible with a mesothelioma diagnosis becomes of the utmost importance. That is understandable.
One of the ways currently believed to possibly extend survival with a mesothelioma diagnosis is undergoing an extensive radical surgery procedure. Because mesothelioma is a cancer attacking the mesothelin cells lining the lungs, the surgical procedure involves either removing the lung, called extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) surgery, or lung-sparing pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) surgery to remove the cancerous lining of the lung but not the lung.
We recently reported on mesothelioma survival factors from a scientific research analysis from England based on 252 mesothelioma patients who underwent either surgical procedure. The researchers reported that mesothelioma survival for at least two years after surgery was based on four factors:
- Being under age 60 at the time of the surgery
- Having the epithelioid variety of mesothelioma
- Had already had some level of chemotherapy
- No spread of cancer to the lymph nodes
Now a new and much larger study from Italy reports that factors similar to the first three may be the key to longer mesothelioma survival, not the surgery itself.
The new Italian study just published in the March issue of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology (Bovolato, P, et al, “Does surgery improve survival of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma? A multicenter retrospective analysis of 1365 consecutive patients”, March 2014, Journal of Thoracic Oncology,” questions surgery’s role in improving survival for those with a mesothelioma diagnosis.
The researchers analyzed data on 1,365 mesothelioma patients treated from 1982 to 2012 in six different medical institutions.
They found that age under 70, having the epithelioid variety of mesothelioma, and chemotherapy helped increase survival. For 313 patients with all of these favorable factors, median mesothelioma survival was 18.6 months after medical therapy alone, 24.6 months after P/D, and 20.9 months after EPP.
“Our data suggest that patients with good prognostic factors had a similar survival whether they received medical therapy only, P/D, or EPP. The modest benefit observed after surgery during medical treatment requires further investigation,” the researchers state in their conclusion.
You may see the possibility of an additional two to six months of life as more than a “modest benefit.” However, undergoing surgery can detract from quality of life even in otherwise healthy people as they recover from the effects of anesthesia and just the rigors of being operated on. Whether surgery will prolong life or erode quality of life in the months remaining after a mesothelioma diagnosis is a decision you will have to make with your family and physician.