A new case report out of Belgium has some encouraging news for mesothelioma patients. It recounts the case of a patient who not only survived multi-modality treatment for mesothelioma, but whose cancer disappeared completely.
The 50-year-old patient was suffering from malignant pleural mesothelioma, a virulent lung-related cancer usually caused by inhalation of asbestos dust. The patient had the epithelial variety of the disease and a fairly contained tumor on the surface of the lung lining. Staging showed that the mesothelioma cells had not yet spread to the lymph nodes, which can be a precursor to metastasis (spread) to other parts of the body.
Doctors at the University Hospital in Leuven, Belgium treated the patient with a tri-modality approach, including chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Induction chemotherapy was administered prior to the surgery in an effort to shrink the primary tumor. Surgeon’s then performed an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), removing the mesothelioma tumor, the nearest lung, and other diseased or at-risk tissues. After surgery, the patient underwent “radical radiotherapy” to destroy any remaining mesothelioma cells that could cause a tumor to regrow.
Following this treatment, the doctors report a “complete disappearance of solid tumor tissue”. Although the patient’s younger age, epithelial subtype, and early-stage mesothelioma were all good prognostic factors, complete remission in mesothelioma is extremely rare. Summarizing these remarkable results in a Belgian medical journal, the authors say more study is needed to determine how they might be replicated in other mesothelioma patients.
“The real prognostic value of the pathologic complete remission of a malignant pleural mesothelioma definitely needs to be further evaluated in a larger series of patients,” they write.
Survival of mesothelioma is not unprecedented and new, investigative treatments are improving the odds for newly-diagnosed patients. At nearly 17 years after his diagnosis, Paul Kraus, author of “Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers: A Patient’s Guide”, is considered the world’s longest-living documented mesothelioma survivor.
Moubax, K, et al, “Pathologic complete remission of malignant pleural mesothelioma after combined modality treatment: a case report”, October 2013, Acta Clinical Belgica, pp. 386-388.