Mesothelioma treatment may be best managed by a multidisciplinary team of doctors and specialized surgeons.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos can be found in thousands of industrial and consumer products. People who are exposed to asbestos may not experience symptoms of mesothelioma for decades.
Multimodal therapy may give patients the best odds of surviving mesothelioma. Multimodal therapy often includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Yet even when combined, these therapies achieve only limited success. The 5-year survival rate of patients with mesothelioma is less than 20%.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends that patients with mesothelioma be treated by a multidisciplinary team of doctors. A multidisciplinary team includes doctors from different specialties. They can provide a more comprehensive care plan than a single doctor.
Regionalization is another treatment practice. This is when mesothelioma care takes place at specific centers within a region. This practice often leads to better health outcomes because the doctors and facilities are experts at treating mesothelioma.
Testing the Theory
This study looked at whether a multidisciplinary care team and regionalization would help patients with mesothelioma.
The study data came from a health system in California. In this health system, the multidisciplinary care teams included doctors for medical oncology and thoracic surgery. They also included experts from pathology and radiology as needed.
This health system also started to refer mesothelioma patients to one surgeon at one surgical center.
Researchers used medical records from 368 mesothelioma patients. The study compared the records before and after these two treatment options were started.
After starting to use a multidisciplinary care team and regionalization, more patients received surgery for their mesothelioma. It was easier for doctors to identify good candidates for multimodal therapies.
This led to improved survival rates for mesothelioma patients.
The researchers want to conduct more research on the types and amounts of therapies to provide mesothelioma patients. This will be important for older patients and patients with multiple diseases.
Ossowski S, Hung YY, Banks K, et al. Improving outcomes in malignant pleural mesothelioma in an integrated health care system. J Thorac Dis. 2022;14(9):3352-3363. doi:10.21037/jtd-22-427