The quickest, most effective method to treat mesothelioma is through surgery. The logic makes sense: If there’s a deadly disease in your body, then simply removing it is an obvious solution.
A new study shows just how effective peritoneal mesothelioma surgery is — and just how few patients actually undergo an operation.
The study, which was published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, analyzed 2,062 malignant peritoneal mesothelioma patients found in the National Cancer Database. The study only looked at patients who had the rare cancer between 2003 and 2014.
Peritoneal mesothelioma forms due to asbestos fibers lodging into cells in a particular area of the body. When these sharp, pointed particles are inhaled or ingested, they can enter the thin lining around the abdomen.
This lining is called the peritoneum, and there’s a wall of cells on either side of the lining. When asbestos fibers puncture these cells, mutation occurs and tumors form.
If you’re a peritoneal mesothelioma patient — or you know someone with this disease — we can refer you to a surgeon. Reach out to our patient advocate and registered nurse, Jenna Campagna, for a list of the top peritoneal mesothelioma specialists. She’s available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Many Patients Underwent Peritoneal Mesothelioma Surgery?
According to the report, around half of the patients (51% to be exact) didn’t undergo surgery. Around 34% received curative surgery. The study refers to patients receiving “radical surgery,” which likely means cytoreduction with heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). The main curative operation for peritoneal mesothelioma is cytoreduction paired with HIPEC.
Cytoreduction involves debulking, which is the removal of tumors from the body during surgery. During the operation, the surgeon and medical team search in the abdomen to identify and remove as many diseased cells as possible.
Cytoreduction often may also involve removing part or all of the peritoneum. This part of the procedure is called a peritonectomy.
Cytoreduction with HIPEC can take up to 10 hours to complete. Fortunately, the operation is linked to extraordinary mesothelioma survival times. According to a different study, which analyzed 405 peritoneal mesothelioma patients, survival rates are astounding:
- More than half survived for three years
- Close to half lived for five years
However, there are valid reasons why patients don’t have surgery. Removing the disease means also removing any body parts or organs the disease spread to and has affected. Having a lung or part of the abdomen removed is often a scary proposition for people — and understandably so.
Still, the alternative is allowing the cancer to spread further and eventually force the body to shut down. Undergoing this surgery is the life-saving treatment that can prevent mesothelioma from inflicting additional damage.
This study reaffirms the benefits of aggressive surgery.
Survival Rates for Peritoneal Mesothelioma Patients
Among the 701 patients who had radical peritoneal mesothelioma surgery (cytoreduction plus HIPEC), the median survival time was 38.4 months. Patients who had radical surgery plus systemic chemotherapy lived for a median of 41.8 months.
Patients who didn’t undergo surgery lived for less than a year.
There’s even an increase in quality of life for peritoneal mesothelioma patients who have surgery. A different study published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology found that surgical patients had:
- Improved emotional well-being and social functioning
- Fewer emotional issues
- Reduced pain
“Despite the risks associated with this operation, patients may tolerate (surgery plus HIPEC) well and have good overall quality of life postoperatively,” the study states.
- Predictors and Outcomes of Surgery in Peritoneal Mesothelioma: An Analysis of 2000 Patients From the National Cancer Database. Annals of Surgical Oncology. Retrieved from:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32006127-predictors-and-outcomes-of-surgery-in-peritoneal-mesothelioma-an-analysis-of-2000-patients-from-the-national-cancer-database/. Accessed: 02/04/2020.
- Effect of Cytoreductive Surgery and Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy on Quality of Life in Patients with Peritoneal Mesothelioma. U.S. National Library of Medicine via the Annals of Surgical Oncology. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31069554. Accessed: 05/24/2019.
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