In the latter half of the 20th century, the general public learned of asbestos’ dangers. They learned the substance is, in fact, a carcinogen, one which can lead to aggressive diseases such as mesothelioma.

The awareness of asbestos’ harm led to increased regulations in the United States and scrutiny of businesses which used the mineral. Most people expected asbestos-caused diseases like mesothelioma to top off early in the 21st century and eventually fade into obscurity.

That result has not happened — nor will it any time soon.

According to the World Journal of Surgery, pleural mesothelioma cases increased from 2004 to 2014. The publication analyzed the National Cancer Database’s information for incidence rates during this time. The result from this examination shows that mesothelioma has become more prevalent in the United States.

 

National Cancer Database on Mesothelioma

In 2004, there were 1,783 pleural mesothelioma cases in the country. In 2014, there were 1,961 reported cases. That’s an increase of around 10%.

Pleural mesothelioma only accounts for between 70% and 80% of all mesothelioma cases. Peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma comprise the other 20-30% of cases.

According to numerous sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are usually between 3,000 and 3,300 new mesothelioma cases each year. From 2012-2016, there were on average 3,253 new cases each year. In 2016 alone, there were 3,096 reported mesothelioma cases.

mesothelioma rates comparison

If we follow the rule that “between 70% and 80% of all cases involve pleural mesothelioma,” then there were between 2,100 and 2,500 pleural mesothelioma cases in 2016. Like said earlier, this disease isn’t going away. Mesothelioma incidence is stagnant, if not increasing, year to year.

But …

 

Mesothelioma Treatment Is Improving

Science continually evolves, which means treatment for diseases continuously improves. Mesothelioma treatment, in particular, is getting better, which is a positive for patients and their loved ones.

Earlier in 2019, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Novo TTF-100L medical device for pleural mesothelioma treatment. It is limited to humanitarian use device distinction, but the approval is a significant moment for mesothelioma patients and doctors.

Peritoneal mesothelioma treatment is expanding as well. Many patients receive cytoreductive surgery, plus heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) immediately after the operation. In a study published by the Annals of Surgical Oncology, around 55% of participants who underwent this treatment combination survived for at least three years. Roughly 37% survived for at least five years.

This study only included a few peritoneal mesothelioma patients, and other studies have reported different percentages. However, they are all close to the following:

  • Between 50% and 65% for three-year survival
  • Between 35% and 47% for five-year survival

While these figures are promising, a new method shows even better survival rates.

Dr. Paul Sugarbaker of MedStar Washington Hospital wrote an article for Translational Lung Cancer Research about long-term intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Sugarbaker, an esteemed peritoneal mesothelioma specialist, said that using this method in addition to cytoreduction and HIPEC has increased life expectancies for many people.

According to his report, of patients who regularly received this treatment, around 70% survived for at least five years. That’s great news for patients.

Wait! There’s more good news.

 

Mesothelioma Patients Undergoing Treatment More Often

The best route to healing from mesothelioma is undergoing treatment. Surgery is the first choice, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. If more patients receive medical help, then more of them will survive for longer, right?

The National Cancer Database’s figures back up this theory.

In 2004, treatment and survival rates were as follows:

  • Approximately 34% of pleural mesothelioma patients underwent treatment.
  • Around 37% of them survived for at least one year after diagnosis.
  • Roughly 9% survived for at least three years.

In 2014, the rates were better:

  • Around 54% of patients received treatment.
  • Roughly 47% survived for at least one year after diagnosis.
  • Approximately 15% survived for at least three years.

So more people are getting treatment for their mesothelioma, and more people are surviving for longer after diagnosis.

mesothelioma treatment and survival improving

How to Find Mesothelioma Treatment

We at Mesothelioma Guide can help patients find quality treatment and potentially extend their lives. Our patient advocate and registered nurse, Jenna Campagna, has connections to the top cancer centers in the country.

If you or a loved one has mesothelioma, remember that treatment now is better than ever before. Jenna works with patients every day to improve their quality of life and prognosis. Email her at jenna@mesotheliomaguide.com if you wish to explore your treatment options.

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Show Sources & Author

  1. Largely Unchanged Annual Incidence and Overall Survival of Pleural Mesothelioma in the USA. World Journal of Surgery. Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00268-019-05132-6. Accessed: 08/23/19.
  2. Update on the management of malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. Translational Lung Cancer Research. Retrieved from: http://tlcr.amegroups.com/article/view/23788/18535. Accessed: 08/23/19.
  3. Effect of Cytoreductive Surgery and Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy on Quality of Life in Patients with Peritoneal Mesothelioma. Annals of Surgical Oncology. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31069554. Accessed: 05/16/19.
  4. Survival prognostic factors in patients undergoing cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy treatment: analysis from a single oncological center. Journal of Surgical Oncology. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4815060/. Accessed: 04/12/19.
  5. Cytoreductive Surgery and Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy for Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma: Multi-Institutional Experience. Journal of Clinical Oncology. Retrieved from: https://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/JCO.2009.23.9640. Accessed: 05/14/19.
Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.