The approach combines two already accepted mesothelioma treatments in a new way for better outcomes in people with the deadly asbestos cancer.
Mesothelioma Treatment Combines Radiation & Surgery
According to the new report published by doctors in Toronto, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) followed by lung-removing mesothelioma surgery extended survival for patients with the most common subtype of pleural mesothelioma.
“The median overall survival and disease-free survival was 51 and 47 months, respectively, in epithelial subtypes, compared with 10 and 8 months in biphasic subtypes,” reports study author and thoracic surgeon Marc de Perrot, MD, of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto.
How the New Treatment Approach Works
The Canadian study focused on 62 patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma between November 2008 and October 2014.
The mesothelioma patients received 25 Gy of targeted radiation to one side of their chest over the course of a week. Areas deemed to be “at risk” based on CT and PET scan results got extra “boosts” of radiation.
Following the radiotherapy, the mesothelioma treatment involved removing the diseased pleura, the closest lung, and other at-risk tissues during extrapleural pneumonectomy mesothelioma surgery.
Extending Mesothelioma Survival
The key to extending mesothelioma survival for the study participants appears to lie in the targeting and shrinking of mesothelioma tumors with radiation prior to surgery.
Although EPP mesothelioma surgery typically carries a high risk of complications and even death, only 39 percent of patients undergoing this combination mesothelioma treatment in Toronto experienced serious treatment-related complications. Just under 5 percent of patients died from the treatment.
Based on these promising outcomes, the Toronto team says the IMRT/EPP mesothelioma treatment combination has become their preferred approach to managing resectable mesothelioma.
de Perrot, M et al, “Accelerated hemithoracic radiation followed by extrapleural pneumonectomy for malignant pleural mesothelioma”, October 19, 2015, Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Epub ahead of print