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Modified Surgical Approach and Immunotherapy May Boost Pleural Mesothelioma Survival

A modified version of a pleurectomy, as well as immunotherapy, may boost survival rates for those who suffer from pleural mesothelioma. Here the mesothelioma attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter Angelos provide mesothelioma victims and their families with information regarding the latest treatment opportunities.

There are several considerations to keep in mind when electing to undergo a major surgical or medical procedure. For those with malignant pleural mesothelioma, surgery is often the best option available to boost your odds of survival. However, boosting those odds may come at a heavy cost in terms of pain, post-surgical side effects and quality of life.

A new European study suggests that a modified surgical approach to pleural mesothelioma may not only minimize side effects, but also maximize mesothelioma survival chances. Additionally, immunotherapy has proven to have potentially beneficial effects on the survival rate of pleural mesothelioma, as a recent study from the Annals of Translational Medicine has shown.

Traditional Pleurectomy Treatment of Pleural Mesothelioma

When undergoing surgery to remove malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), an aggressive cancer caused by pleural mesothelium, your physician will recommend one of two surgical procedures: pleurectomy and an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP).

During a pleurectomy, the surgeon will remove part of the pleura well as any at risk tissues including parts of the diaphragm and the pericardium (the membrane that surrounds the heart). An extrapleural pneumonectomy, on the other hand, involves the removal of a lung, a portion of the diaphragm and the linings of the lung and heart. Although such measures are all in an effort to keep mesothelioma from spreading, they carry a significant amount of post-operative risk which may include complications, pain or even death.

A Safer Procedure for Mesothelioma Treatment?

A newly released study that began in 2005, consists of 49 participants diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma (most of them with stage III or IV). They participated in a clinical trial and underwent a modified pleurectomy procedure to treat their individual diagnosis.

During the modified procedure, the patients were not only spared their lungs, but also their diaphragm and pericardium. After the malignant tissue had been removed, each patient’s chest was rinsed with a solution of heated chemotherapy drugs in a procedure known as hyperthymic intrathoracic chemotherapy. The patients also underwent standard mesothelioma chemotherapy afterward.

Modified Treatment Results

Although the sample size of the study was small, the success of the modified procedures was noteworthy. None of the patients suffered any intraoperative complications, and the study reported zero post-operative deaths. Fewer than half of the patients experienced any complications after the modified pleurectomy with hyperthymic intrathoracic chemotherapy.

The overall average survival rate after the procedure was just under two years, with almost ten percent of the patients living at least five years. Almost 80 percent lived for at least a year and 45.7 percent experienced two years of mesothelioma survival.

Exploring Further Treatment Options Through Immunotherapy Clinical Trials

Although surgery is the only FDA-approved method of pleural mesothelioma treatment, clinical trials are available to help mesothelioma patients explore new treatment methods, such as immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a drug-based treatment that stimulates the patient’s immune system to kill mesothelioma cells. Immunotherapy may be less invasive than surgery, and may present fewer side effects, as immunotherapy is meant to only target malignant cells.

Immunotherapy has proven effective on other cancers, such as cancer of the lung or breast, and the study from the Annals of Translational Medicine showed that 40% of pleural mesothelioma patients studied who were treated with immunotherapy showed partial responses, and 51% showed disease stability. Progression-free survival (PFS), which measures how long as patient survives after treatment without a worsening of the condition, was shown to have a median duration of approximately six months.

Pleural mesothelioma patients who are interested in immunotherapy and other novel treatments for their condition can find information about current clinical trials, as well as up-to-date research and news regarding mesothelioma at the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF).

Consult Your Healthcare Provider

Although the results of both of the studies are promising, more evidence is needed to definitively determine which procedure or medical treatment is more beneficial in terms of survival and risks. If you or a loved one are suffering from pleural mesothelioma, the mesothelioma attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter Angelos urge you to consult your healthcare provider about the appropriate treatment for your individual diagnosis and to ensure the best outcome for you and your family.

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