Mesothelioma Breakthrough Can Spare the Diaphragm

Mesothelioma Breakthrough Can Spare the Diaphragm

A new study shows that surgery for malignant pleural mesothelioma can spare the diaphragm without reducing overall survival.

This study was conducted by medical researchers from St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in the United Kingdom.

Surgery for Malignant Pleural Mesothlioma

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It can take decades after asbestos exposure for the cancer to develop. It is an aggressive cancer and can be hard to treat.

When the cancer grows in your lungs, it is called malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). Conventional treatment for MPM may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Surgery is the most invasive treatment option and not every patient is eligible for surgery. If the patient is too ill or if the cancer has spread too much, surgery would be ineffective.

When doctors perform surgery to remove the mesothelioma tumors from the lungs, they try to preserve as much healthy lung tissue as possible. This procedure is called pleurectomy/decortication (PD). This can be difficult depending on how much the cancer has spread. If the doctor tries to spare healthy lung tissue by leaving some cancerous tissue behind, the patient may continue to suffer. But if the doctor removes too much lung tissue, the patient could also face serious side effects.

This aim of this study was to explore the effects of PD that spared the diaphragm in MPM patients. The hope was that leaving the diaphragm intact while removing cancerous tissue would not harm the patient.

Shorter Surgery, Shorter Hospital Stay

The study researchers looked at 136 patients undergoing surgery for MPM. Twenty-eight of those patients had surgery without removing any part of their diaphragm.

The patients in this group had shorter operations and shorter hospital stays than patients who tissue from their diaphragm removed. They also had shorter duration of “air leak”, which is when air from the lungs leaks into the chest cavity.

The study researchers recommend that the diaphragm should be spared whenever possible when surgically removing MPM from a patient’s lungs.


Lee M, Ventura L, Baranowski R, Hargrave J, Waller D. The Effects of Preserving the Diaphragm on Early and Late Outcome of Lung-Sparing Radical Surgery for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. J Clin Med. 2022;11(22):6839. Published 2022 Nov 19. doi:10.3390/jcm11226839

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