Surgery Is Best Hope for Longer Mesothelioma Survival

If you’re thinking of having mesothelioma surgery, the findings of a recent study might help make it a little easier to come to a decision.

Researchers report that mesothelioma surgery gives you a better hope of extending your survival than any other mesothelioma treatment currently available.

The researchers came to this conclusion about mesothelioma surgery after reviewing the medical charts of 14,228 mesothelioma patients, going back to 1973.

Among those patients, the ones who underwent mesothelioma surgery lived longer. And they did so without there being other prognostic factors involved.

The researchers contend that these data give weight — a lot, in fact — to the notion that surgery should be recognized as the foundational therapy where mesothelioma survival is the goal.

“Prolonged [mesothelioma] survival has been reported with surgery-based multimodality therapy, but to date, no trial has demonstrated independent survival benefit of surgery over other therapies for malignant pleural mesothelioma,” wrote researchers Andrea S. Wolf, M.D., M.P.H., Raja M. Flores, M.D., Emanuela Taioli, M.D., Marlene Camacho-Rivera, Sc.D., M.P.H. and Kenneth E. Rosenzweig, M.D.

The researchers are from Mount Sinai Medical Center, North Shore/Long Island Jewish Health System and the Hofstra School of Medicine, all in New York.

Mesothelioma Survival Discussed

Owing to that lack of demonstrated benefit, the researchers sought to evaluate whether cancer-directed surgery independently influenced survival in a large population-based dataset, the researchers explained at the annual meeting of the American Radium Society.

To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers first turned to the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results database, commonly known by the acronym SEER.

SEER was set up in 1973 to gather data about cancer incidence and survival. These data are population-based and cover all races and ethnicities.

The most important part about the SEER registries is the information about tumor sites and morphology.

SEER is the only database that gives researchers data about cancer staging at the time of diagnosis and how long the patients lived.

Using the SEER data, the Mount Sinai-led research team found the cases where malignant pleural mesothelioma was the pathologically proven diagnosis. They examined every one of those cases and took note of each patient’s age, sex and race.

They also noted the year in which diagnosis was made, what stage the mesothelioma was in at that moment in time, what treatments were given, and how long the patient survived beyond the making of the initial diagnosis.

Mesothelioma Surgery Versus Radiation

What they found at the end of all this investigation was that having surgery aimed at removing the mesothelioma was a predictor of longer survival.

For the record, they also found that longer survival was predicted if the patient happened to be younger, female and diagnosed with mesothelioma at an early stage.

“In comparison with no treatment, surgery alone was independently associated with significantly longer survival…while radiation alone was not,” the researchers discovered.

A surprise to the audience of radiation therapists was the finding that radiation combined with surgery yielded about the same mesothelioma survival outcome as surgery without radiation.