A new analysis of the National Cancer Institute’s large SEER cancer database has some good news and some bad news for mesothelioma patients and their families.
The bad news is that mesothelioma survival has essentially remained flat over the past four decades.
The good news, however, is that certain characteristics improve a mesothelioma patient’s chances of a positive treatment response.
Mesothelioma and the SEER Database
The NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program collects statistics on many types of cancer, including malignant pleural mesothelioma. The information can be used to aid researchers in their search for new treatments and cures.
There are more than 14,000 mesothelioma patients represented in the SEER database which includes mesothelioma cases from as far back as 1973.
Researchers from Mount Sinai Medical Center and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education in New York used information from SEER to compile the latest mesothelioma report published in the online medical journal PLoS One.
Factors Influencing Mesothelioma Survival
An examination of all pathologically confirmed cases of mesothelioma in the database from 1973 to 2009 revealed that certain kinds of mesothelioma patients have better survival rates than others.
Women with mesothelioma tend to live longer and respond better to treatment than men with the disease .
The same is true for younger patients and for those who receive a mesothelioma diagnosis earlier in the disease process.
Surgery Associated with Longer Mesothelioma Survival
Of the primary conventional treatments for mesothelioma, including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, only surgery was associated with “significant improvement in survival”, according to the research team.
Mesothelioma patients who underwent a combination of radiation and mesothelioma surgery fared about as well as those who only had surgery.
“Cancer-directed surgery is independently associated with better survival, suggesting that multimodal surgery-based therapy can benefit these patients,” writes lead researcher Emanuela Taioli, MD, PhD, Mount Sinai’s Director for Translational Epidemiology.
The team concludes that more research is needed into add-on or “adjuvant” therapies that may be able to boost the effectiveness of mesothelioma surgery.
Tailoi, E, et al, “Determinants of Survival In Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: A Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Study of 14,228 Patients”, December 14, 2015, PLoS One