A recent study out of Germany demonstrated a different surgical approach for dealing with mesothelioma that’s showing promise for some patients. The study concluded that more invasive surgery wasn’t necessary to improve prognosis for pleural mesothelioma patients. The technique studied was radical pleurectomy (known as RP).
The co-authors of the study on “functional results after lung-sparing radical pleurectomy in the management of malignant pleural mesothelioma” were German MDs Servet Bölükbas and Joachim Schirren. The duo’s approach was to preserve as much lung function as possible. The theory was that less invasive surgery would improve outcomes and consistently allow chemotherapy and radiation follow-up.
Physicians had noted that using surgery, chemotherapy or radiation alone was not able to improve outcomes. But implementing the three together – called triple therapy – produced better results. What’s more, the prognosis varied based on which surgical technique was chosen which is strictly based on physician preference.
The surgery most often chosen is EPP – extrapleural pneumonectomy – which is a radical procedure that removes the affected lung, lining of the lung and heart and diaphragm. By comparison, RP takes only the lining of the lung and leaves the lung itself intact.
The study involved 33 mesothelioma patients who underwent RP rather than EPP followed by radiation and chemotherapy. The outcomes were positive. Bölükbas said, “Our survival rates are comparable to survival rates after EPP, even a little better. Even in event of recurrence, our patients are able to tolerate additional therapy, which prolongs life. Patients after EPP mostly are not able to tolerate any additional therapy.”
What can also improve or worsen prognosis after surgery are complications. Up to 50% of EPP patients suffer complications which may require additional surgery or cause other issues. Comparatively, RP has closer to a 20% rate of complications.
In addition to determining which type of surgery is better for a particular mesothelioma patient, doctors must decide what order to administer therapy. Surgery doesn’t always have to come first. Some oncologists will try to shrink mesothelioma tumors with radiation or chemotherapy prior to surgery so less cutting is required.
Dr. Bölükbas believes that individualizing mesothelioma therapies on a per-patient basis may result in better outcomes than a programmed approach to this devastating disease. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or have a loved one coping with the disease, it’s important to understand your options and get a second opinion if you are unsure whether the course of treatment is what’s best for you.
Bergman Draper Oslund has been helping asbestos victims for more than 15 years and has won more than $700 million in settlements for clients just like you. Call us now for a free consultation to discuss your mesothelioma diagnosis or that of your loved one to find out your options for legal recourse against those who damaged your health.