A new Belgian mesothelioma survival study contains important insights for patients and doctors.
Cancer center researchers did the study with data from the Belgian Cancer Registry. It includes more than 1400 patients. They received mesothelioma diagnosis between 2004 and 2012.
The analysis is similar to past mesothelioma research. It shows the longest-surviving patients are the ones who have chemotherapy.
Surgery patients also live longer. The third longer-living group are patients treated at experienced cancer centers.
Mesothelioma Survival and Treatment
The mesothelioma survival study asks what kinds of patients live longest and why. Researchers had to first see what treatments most patients receive.
They found that most mesothelioma patients have chemotherapy. Chemotherapy usually includes pemetrexed (Alimta) and cisplatin. This is the most common treatment for mesothelioma around the world, including in the US. Sixty-nine percent of patients had this or another kind of tumor-directed treatment.
Mesothelioma tends to happen in people over 65. Many of these people do not have surgery. The study shows that most patients who have radical mesothelioma surgery are younger.
Most surgery patients also have the mesothelioma subtype called epithelioid. Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common subtype. Epithelioid mesothelioma is also the easiest to treat.
Treatment Location Matters
The mesothelioma survival study shows that it matters where a patient gets treatment.
Mesothelioma patients who have treatment at “high volume” centers often live longer. At high volume centers, doctors have more experience treating mesothelioma. Other studies agree.
The other factor that has a “positive relation” with survival is surgery. When considered apart from other treatments, surgery links to survival.
Chemotherapy is the Winner
Of the three treatment categories in the mesothelioma survival study, chemotherapy stands out. Patients who have chemotherapy live longest no matter what other treatments they have.
Lead researcher Michael Rosskamp writes, “Centre volume and surgery being related to survival in univariable analyses, only chemotherapy remained prognostic after adjustment.”
Besides epithelioid subtype, two other factor also affect mesothelioma survival. They include being younger and being a woman.
Rosskamp, M, “Real-life treatment practice for malignant pleural mesothelioma in Belgium”, November 2018, Lung Cancer, https://www.lungcancerjournal.info/article/S0169-5002(18)30593-2/fulltext