Your Survival Prospects Are Affected by When You Get Chemotherapy for Mesothelioma

Timing is everything. That’s true whether you are buying stocks or telling a joke. It’s especially true if you are being treated for mesothelioma.

A team of researchers from Britain, Australia and Italy recently looked at whether the timing of when you start chemotherapy makes a difference to your mesothelioma survival.

They said it could very well make a difference. They said it could especially make a difference if you went into surgery with a poor prognosis.

What they said specifically was that patients with a poor prognosis should get started on chemotherapy right away. Waiting could rob you of survival time.

Types of Mesothelioma Respond Differently to Chemo After Surgery

The researchers wrote about this in the online edition of the journal Lung Cancer. They said they wanted to take a look at the timing of chemotherapy with surgery because so little had been written about it before.

Their goal was to see if delaying chemotherapy after mesothelioma surgery harmed survival chances. They said they limited their study to just patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma is the type that starts on the thin tissue layer covering the lungs. One side of this layer faces toward the lungs. The other side faces toward the inside of the chest wall. It acts like a cushion to keep you from feeling pain when your lungs bump up against the chest wall each time you inhale.

Here’s some of what the researchers learned. First, they confirmed that chemotherapy as part of surgery helps you survive mesothelioma better.

The second thing they learned was that patients whose mesothelioma tumors were made up of either the sarcomatoid or biphasic type of cell tended to be helped the most help by chemotherapy after surgery.

Another key point was relevant for patients whose mesothelioma had spread to their lymph nodes. If they were given chemotherapy after surgery, it took a longer time for the cancer started spreading again.

Result of Chemo After Surgery on More than 200 Mesothelioma Patients

The researchers made these findings by reviewing the medical charts of 229 mesothelioma patients. All of these patients had been treated at a single hospital.

Eighty-one of these patients received an extrapleural pneumonectomy. This is a type of mesothelioma surgery where one of your two lungs is removed along with the tissue lining. They also take out part of your diaphragm and the lining around your heart.

The remaining 197 patients received an extended pleurectomy decortication. This is another type of mesothelioma surgery. For this surgery, they take out just the linings and no lung is removed.

Nearly 170 of the patients were given a chemotherapy cocktail made up of the drug pemetrexed mixed with platinum.

There were three different ways chemotherapy was given. One way was to automatically give it right after the surgery. Another was to give it before the surgery. A third way was to give it only if the mesothelioma showed signs of starting up again.

Some patients were in too poor a condition for chemotherapy at all. But their outcomes were looked at as well.

The title of the article prepared by the researchers is “How Does the Timing of Chemotherapy Affect Outcome Following Radical Surgery for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma?”

The authors are from the University Hospitals Leicester in the United Kingdom, the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane, Australia, and the Istituto Di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Arcispedale in Reggio Emilia, Italy.