• Aggressive Mesothelioma Surgery Improves Quality of Life for Many
  • June 17, 2015
  • Law Firm: Waters Kraus LLP - Dallas Office
  • A recent study from the University of Chicago Medical Center’s Oncology Division of the Department of Surgery reports that mesothelioma patients undergoing aggressive pleurectomy/decortication surgery experience different results, depending on the progression of their disease.

    For patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma at an early stage when symptoms are minimal, the aggressive surgery causes a substantial decrease in pulmonary function.

    Patients diagnosed when the mesothelioma is more advanced show an improved quality of life after the surgery.

    The study is the first to examine how the aggressive surgery affects patients’ pulmonary function and their quality of life. It was published in April 2014 in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

    Aggressive Mesothelioma Surgery Improves Survival Rate for Early-Stage Patients

    What is pleurectomy/decortication surgery? The surgeon removes the pleura (the lining surrounding the lungs), along with any mesothelioma tumors seen on the lungs or in the area surrounding them. Frequently, all or a part of the diaphragm is also removed and then rebuilt using prosthetics.

    The Chicago study involved 36 mesothelioma patients who underwent pleurectomy/decortication surgery. The average age of the patients was 70-years-old. Seventeen patients were fully active with minimal symptoms at the time of the surgery and 19 patients were experiencing noticeable symptoms of mesothelioma. Most patients received chemotherapy after the surgery.

    Early-stage patients with minimal symptoms. These patients lost some degree of pulmonary function. Still, that may not be a reason to delay the surgery. The fewer mesothelioma tumors that exist when surgery is performed, the better the long-term survival rate will be.

    Late-stage patients with obvious symptoms. These patients did not experience a loss of pulmonary function. And, they benefited from an improved quality of life.

    Study authors believe that part of the problem for early-stage mesothelioma patients who experienced a decline in pulmonary function is caused by the damage to the diaphragm during the surgery. They will now explore the role this plays in patient recovery.

    The Chicago mesothelioma doctors note that the decrease in pulmonary function and the increase in quality of life are better for patients undergoing pleurectomy/decortication surgery than for mesothelioma patients treated by the more aggressive extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) procedure, in which the entire lung is removed.