There are two primary surgeries for pleural mesothelioma patients: extrapleural pneumonectomy and pleurectomy with decortication.
Some mesothelioma experts suggest a third: talc pleurodesis.
Talc pleurodesis surgery is a low-invasive procedure and could improve the quality of life and survival time for late-stage pleural mesothelioma patients. The operation manages a primary pleural mesothelioma symptom and reduces pain.
What Is Pleurodesis?
Pleural mesothelioma develops in the pleura, which is a thin membrane separating the chest wall and lung cavity. When the rare cancer forms, the presence of tumors causes fluid to build up in the pleura. This fluid buildup is called “pleural effusions” and puts pressure on the chest wall, which can cause chest pain and shortness of breath for the patient.
There are numerous fixes for pleural effusions, but a pleurodesis is a potential permanent one. The surgery removes the fluid from the patient’s pleura, which allows the lungs to move normally and the patient to breathe without irritation. Pleurodesis surgery also involves sealing the pleural cavity to prevent future effusions.
To seal the space, doctors inject non-asbestos talc directly into the pleural space. This is called a talc pleurodesis. The talc irritates the pleura causing an inflammatory response which then fuses together the layers of the pleura.
Comparing Talc Pleurodesis and Other Pleural Mesothelioma Surgeries
A study published in the Journal of Thoracic Disease showed the long-term benefits of a talc pleurodesis procedure. The research team, which included esteemed pleural mesothelioma specialist Dr. Raja Flores, found that the overall survival rate for patients who underwent this operation was 14 months.
Patients who undergo more-invasive pleural mesothelioma surgeries may survive longer but deal with greater risks. The study reported that patients who underwent extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) had average survival rates of 21 months and 17 months, respectively.
Since pleurodesis surgery is far less invasive than EPP or P/D, there is often a greater chance of success and fewer complications associated with the operation. A study published on UpToDate cited a study showing that talc pleurodesis has at least a 90% success rate. Success is defined as “fully expanded lung at the end of the procedure and no recurrence of the effusion at long-term follow up,” according to the study.
Therefore, quality of life could be better for patients undergoing a talc pleurodesis procedure.
Comparing Talc Pleurodesis and Chemotherapy
Most late-stage pleural mesothelioma patients aren’t candidates for either EPP or P/D. Many of them only receive chemotherapy for treatment. However, talc pleurodesis surgery could benefit them.
According to a study in the Journal of Thoracic Disease, patients whose only treatment is chemotherapy survive for an average of 12 months. So talc pleurodesis has a longer average life expectancy. Considering the uncomfortable side effects associated with chemotherapy, undergoing a talc pleurodesis also could be better for quality of life.
While palliative treatments like a pleurodesis procedure are beneficial, patients need to seek the best possible medical care when undergoing any operation. Our patient advocate team connects patients to mesothelioma specialists who can effectively perform the surgery best suited for their disease.
If you’re a newly diagnosed pleural mesothelioma patient — with either an early stage cancer or late-stage disease — contact registered nurse Karen Ritter by email at email@example.com. She’ll help you find a specialist to treat your cancer, prolong your life and increase your quality of life.
Frequently Asked Questions About Talc Pleurodesis
- What is pleurodesis?
- What is talc pleurodesis?
Pleurodesis is a minimally invasive surgery for pleural mesothelioma cancer to remove fluid buildup and seal shut the pleural lining. Pleural mesothelioma forms in the pleura, which is a thin lining between the lung cavity and chest wall. When pleural mesothelioma forms and grows, it causes a buildup of fluid, which is called pleural effusions. Pleurodesis treats pleural effusions and prevents future effusions since the pleural is sealed shut.
Talc pleurodesis is a type of pleurodesis where doctors use talc to seal shut the pleura. Pleurodesis is a minimally invasive surgery to seal shut the pleura and prevent the buildup of fluid in the pleura, a thin lining around the lungs. This buildup is called pleural effusions and it’s a main symptom of pleural mesothelioma cancer. Talc is used to irritate the pleural tissue linings and cause them to stick together and seal shut.
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