According to a recent study, around a quarter of mesothelioma patients do not receive any cancer treatments. The study used data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program. The study analyzed the types of treatment received by pleural and non-pleural mesothelioma patients as well as the correlations with age, gender, and survival.

Treatment Statistics for Malignant Mesothelioma

The study analyzed information about 442 patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in 2011. 389 patients had pleural mesothelioma and 53 had non-pleural mesothelioma, such as peritoneal. For pleural patients, receiving surgery with systemic therapy resulted in the best survival.

Pleural Patient Treatment:

  • 29.3% received no treatment
  • 27.1% underwent surgery
  • 18.4% received radiation
  • 62% received systemic therapy

Non-Pleural Patient Treatment:

  • 21.5% received no treatment
  • 51.8% underwent surgery
  • 4.9% received radiation
  • 61.6% received systemic therapy

Older Patients Are Less Likely to Receive Treatment

The study also separated patients by age groups. The older group included patients who were over 70. The younger group included patients who were under 50. According to the study, older patients were less likely to receive treatment than younger patients.

Patient Age:

  • Only 3.1% of pleural patients were younger than 50 years.
  • 23.3% of non-pleural patients were younger than 50 years.

Why Do Some Patients Not Receive Treatment?

There are many reasons why a mesothelioma patient could go without receiving cancer treatment. Some patients’ doctors may deem them not healthy enough to receive treatment. Occasionally, patients decide themselves that they would rather not deal with the side effects of aggressive cancer treatments.

Jerry’s Treatment Story:

Jerry Griffith Mesothelioma SurvivorJerry is a 15 year mesothelioma survivor. When Jerry was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, he almost refused to be treated. Fortunately, his family convinced him to give chemotherapy a chance.

Upon diagnosis, Jerry’s doctor told him that he only had 6-9 months to live and that there was no cure for the disease. His doctor then proceeded to recommend chemotherapy treatment. Jerry almost refused to receive treatment because he didn’t want to deal with the side effects.

He told the doctor, “No, there will be no chemotherapy! If I have six months to live, I am not going to be sick all the time and then die!”

Jerry figured that if he only had a few more months to live, he wanted to be well enough to spend time with his family before the end would come. What he didn’t realize was that the side effects of chemotherapy would be very much worth it if it worked.

“The doctor, my wife, and many friends convinced me that I was wrong, and should take the chemo, and perhaps I would feel better and live longer,” Jerry told Mesothelioma Guide.

The Benefits of Joining Clinical Trials

Connecting more patients to trials could help a higher percentage of patients receive the treatment they need. Some trials have strict eligibility requirements, making it difficult to find patients to join. However, sometimes patients don’t join trials for other reasons.

According to this study, less than 5% of pleural patients and less than 2% of non-pleural patients participated in clinical trials.

Some patients are not confident in receiving an experimental treatment. Sometimes doctors who are not mesothelioma specialists are not aware of the trial options available. Clinical trials are not for everyone, but all mesothelioma patients should at least consider the option.

Here are some of the many benefits of joining a clinical trial:

  • Access the most cutting edge treatment options
  • Get treatment at the best cancer centers in the country
  • Trials are customized to patients with specific needs

Some of the currently recruiting mesothelioma trials are for patients with late-stage mesothelioma, patients who haven’t had success with chemotherapy, and patients who aren’t eligible for surgery. Mesothelioma patients looking to expand their treatment options should consider joining a clinical trial.

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Show Sources & Author

  1. Patterns of Care and Survival Among Patients with Malignant Mesothelioma in the United States. Lung Cancer. Retrieved from: http://www.lungcancerjournal.info/article/S0169-5002(17)30448-8/abstract. Accessed: 08/14/17.
  2. Malignant mesothelioma: up to 30% of US patients remain untreated. Univadis. Retrieved from: https://www.univadis.com/viewarticle/malignant-mesothelioma-up-to-30-of-us-patients-remain-untreated-544957?sponsor=msd_oncology. Accessed: 08/14/17.
  3. Email Interview with Jerry Griffith. Mesothelioma Guide. Accessed: 6/7/16.

About the Writer, Jamie Iovino

Jamie Iovino is the senior writer at Mesothelioma Guide. She creates and edits pages to make sure mesothelioma patients and their families receive the newest and most accurate information about mesothelioma.