The findings of new research suggests that long-term survival for pleural mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer associated with exposure to asbestos, may not have as much to do with specific treatment options as doctors previously believed.
Australian researchers published a study on September 4 in the British Journal of Cancer that looked at various factors in mesothelioma survival rates.
Researchers set out to determine which treatments may result in longer survival times with the terminal illness, but were unable to find any clear answers.
While researchers found that individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma are surviving longer, it does not appear to be attributable to a specific therapy. In fact, researchers found that 84% of long-surviving mesothelioma patients had no radical surgery of any kind, and 34% of long term survivors did not receive even chemotherapy.
Instead, they found a wide variety of factors that may influence mesothelioma survival rates, including age, calretinin expression, histological subtype, platelet count and hemoglobin level. The researchers also found that gender played a role just a couple months after researchers from the U.S. reported that women with mesothelioma lived longer than men.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, which is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos and breathing asbestos fibers. It is a lethal disease that is often at a very advanced stage when a diagnosis is made, resulting in a very short life-expectancy.
Mesothelioma lawsuits are the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a case against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with cancer that was allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.
In addition to claims for workers exposed to asbestos, in recent years there have been a growing number of secondary exposure mesothelioma cases have been brought in recent years, with wives, children and other family members alleging they developed the disease after breathing asbestos fibers brought home in the hair or on the clothing of individuals who worked directly with the material.