Peritoneal Mesothelioma Surgery Improves Patient Survival: Study
New research suggests that more than 60% of peritoneal mesothelioma patients do not receive surgery that could significantly extend their life-expectancy following a diagnosis of the rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
In a study published this month on-line in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin found that three in five patients diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma do not undergo cytoreductive surgery and intraperitoneal chemotherapy, which could increase their lifespan by an average of three years.
Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer, which is only known to occur among individuals exposed to asbestos. There is no known cure for the cancer, and it is usually not diagnosed until decades after asbestos exposure. As a result, it is often already at an advanced stage by the time it is detected, resulting in a very short life expectancy after diagnosis.
The researchers looked at data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, identifying 1,591 patients who were diagnosed with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma between 1973 to 2010. The study looked at their overall survival following diagnosis, finding that 980 of the patients, or 61.6%, did not undergo surgical therapy. Those that did lived on average an additional 20 months after diagnosis, compared to four months for those that did not.
The mesothelioma survival rate has been increasing over time, as medical technology and procedures have improved. When divided into different timespans, patients receiving cytoreductive surgery in 1991 to 1995 lived an additional 15 months, while those who received the procedure between 2000 and 2010 lived an average of 38 additional months.
“The opportunity to improve patient survival with surgical therapy is lost in a significant number of [mesothelioma] patients,” the researchers concluded.
Asbestos Litigation Over Mesothelioma
Although asbestos has been banned for more than 30 years, new cases of the deadly disease continue to surface given the long latency period of 20 to 40 years between exposure and diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Asbestos use was peaking in 1973, and previous reports by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that the number of cases of malignant mesothelioma are just now peaking.
Over the past few decades, mesothelioma lawsuits have become the longest-running mass tort litigation in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a lawsuit against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related injury caused by inhaling the fibers.
In addition to cases for individuals directly exposed, in recent years there have been a growing number of second-hand asbestos exposure lawsuits brought on behalf of family members were exposed to fibers carried home on clothing or in the hair of individuals working with the material. Cases have been brought by individuals who were exposed as young children or babies when their parents would hold them after returning home from work with asbestos.
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