A controversial surgery may be a viable treatment option for some mesothelioma patients, according to a U.K. study. Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) is an aggressive procedure that many physicians have stopped performing, as it may reduce quality of life. The study, which was published in January, revealed that these procedures may still have some benefits for certain mesothelioma patients.
Patients who undergo an EPP surgery have an entire lung, as well as the lining of the lung and heart and part of the diaphragm, removed, in order to eradicate as much of the cancer as possible. A study conducted in 2011 entitled Mesothelioma and Radical Surgery (MARS) concluded that the risks of the procedure and the diminished quality of life afterward were not worth the minimal benefits for patients. After the MARS study, which examined data from 112 patients in 12 U.K. hospitals, the number of procedures performed in the U.K. drastically decreased. The procedure is still performed in the U.S., but physicians are very selective when determining candidates. Critics of EPP say there are better, less aggressive ways of managing mesothelioma, such as a pleurectomy/decortication surgery, which spares the lung.
The most recent study looked at the survival rates of 30 patients who had undergone EPP surgery at Castle Hill Hospital in the U.K. The median survival rate for the group was 20 months, and increased to 47.5 months for those patients who underwent a trimodality treatment regimen that also incorporated radiation and chemotherapy. Two of the patients survived for seven years after the procedure, and an additional two survived for six years. Overall patient survival rates at six, 12, and 18 months were 80%, 65%, and 55%, respectively. These results are significantly better than patient survival rates in the MARS study, which were 65%, 52%, and 34% for the same time spans. There were no in-hospital or under-30 day deaths among the 30 patients, although four patients died within the 30-60 day range.
Researchers concluded that EPP can be a powerful weapon in fighting malignant pleural mesothelioma, but it is not the solution for all patients. They were able to identify certain characteristics that increase the likelihood of success for EPP patients. Patients with epitheloid mesothelioma experienced a 44% survival rate after three or more years, compared to the biphasic group, of whom none survived more than 18 months. Patients under age 65 had a median survival rate of 27 months, and younger patients experienced a 41% survival rate after three years, compared to 24% for those over 65.
Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer infecting the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a carcinogen that was used extensively in construction until the 1970s. Mesothelioma is very difficult to diagnose, and there is no known cure. With limited treatment options available to mesothelioma victims, it is important to continue exploring the validity of surgeries such as EPP.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, the mesothelioma attorneys at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler can help you recover compensation for your suffering. With offices conveniently located in Center City, Philadelphia, we help asbestos exposure victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call us today at 215-569-4000 or contact us online to review your case.