Some of the nation’s top cancer researchers say chemotherapy is the best treatment for pericardial mesothelioma. Even surgery does not extend survival as well as chemotherapy.
Doctors at the University of Texas reached that conclusion after studying more than 100 cases of pericardial mesothelioma.
Surgery is still the most common treatment for pericardial mesothelioma. But the new research suggests that chemotherapy may be better.
In the study, chemotherapy and cancer spread were the only factors that seemed to impact mesothelioma survival.
What is Pericardial Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma tumors grow on the linings around internal organs.
The most common type is pleural mesothelioma which grows near the lungs. Peritoneal mesothelioma on the abdominal lining is the second most common type.
Pericardial mesothelioma grows on the lining around the heart. It is the rarest type of mesothelioma. Fewer than one percent of all diagnosed mesothelioma cases are pericardial.
Malignant mesothelioma is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Average survival among people with the pericardial type is six to ten months.
Beyond that, doctors do not know very much about this rare malignancy.
Studying Treatment for Pericardial Mesothelioma
Very few people contract pericardial mesothelioma. To study it, the Texas researchers had to look far back in the medical literature.
Between 2000 and 2016, they found 103 people who received treatment for pericardial mesothelioma.
The median age at diagnosis was 55. The median overall survival for these mesothelioma patients was six months.
Researchers compared men and women, asbestos exposure levels, radiation history, and mesothelioma subtypes. They also looked at each patient’s prescribed treatment for pericardial mesothelioma.
Chemotherapy for Mesothelioma Has Greatest Survival Benefit
Besides cancer spread, the study showed that only one factor had an impact on mesothelioma survival.
“A survival benefit was noted in those who received chemotherapy (median survival, 13 months vs. 0.5 months),” writes lead author and internist Elizabeth McGehee, MD. “In multivariate analysis, only the receipt of chemotherapy was associated with improved survival.”
Pericardial mesothelioma patients who received chemotherapy had a median survival of 13 months. That compares to a median of two weeks in patients who did not have chemotherapy.
Patients did best when the treatment for pericardial mesothelioma included a platinum drug. Common platinum drugs include cisplatin and carboplatin. The addition of Alimta did not appear to make a difference.
McGehee, E, at al, “Treatment and Outcomes of Primary Pericardial Mesothelioma: A Contemporary Review of 103 Published Cases”, November 29, 2018, Clinical Lung Cancer, https://www.clinical-lung-cancer.com/article/S1525-7304(18)30304-8/fulltext