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Predicting Mesothelioma Survival with Routine Clinical Tests

predicting mesothelioma survivalUK researchers say predicting mesothelioma survival does not have to be complicated. Their new study shows routine doctor’s office tests may be just as accurate as more complex metrics.

The study appears in the new issue of the BMJ Open Respiratory Research journal. It involved 100 patients with malignant mesothelioma over a four-year period. 

The team compared treatment outcomes among these patients with their results on basic health tests. More often than not, these tests correctly predicted their prognosis. The researchers say simplifying the process of predicting mesothelioma survival could help doctors and patients make better treatment decisions. 

Prognostic Indicators in Asbestos Cancer

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an uncommon but lethal form of membrane cancer. Patients who get it usually have a history of asbestos exposure. By the time they receive a mesothelioma diagnosis, many have less than a year to live. 

But predicting mesothelioma survival is not cut and dried. Some patients die within a few months. Others live for years or even decades with mesothelioma. A patient’s prognosis can help dictate what treatments they try or what clinical trials they join. 

There are many studies on mesothelioma prognostic factors. Many focus on biomarkers in the blood or lung fluid. These include markers like soluble mesothelin related protein (SMRP), calretinin, fibulin 3, and High-Mobility Group Box 1 (HMGB1). 

But the new study suggests there are simpler ways of predicting mesothelioma survival. They are based on standard tests that doctors usually order. 

Easier Ways of Predicting Mesothelioma Survival

The new study included 100 pleural mesothelioma patients diagnosed at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, UK, between 2009 and 2013. Researchers analyzed “routinely available histological, clinical and laboratory data”. The goal was to see which factors were associated with 6-month survival. 

These are the variables the researchers included:

  • Smoking status
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss
  • Platelet count
  • Urea
  • Adjusted calcium

The team created a model for predicting mesothelioma survival based on these factors. It had a predictive c-value of .76, which is classified as “good”. 

“Risk of death at 6 months in patients with a confirmed diagnosis of MPM can be predicted using variables readily available in clinical practice,” writes lead author Samal Gunatilake. Dr. Gunatilake says the new risk prediction model “may be used to influence treatment decisions in patients with MPM.”

More testing of the model is needed before it can be widely used for predicting mesothelioma survival. But it suggests that simpler mesothelioma prognosis is possible.

More than 2,500 Americans will receive a mesothelioma diagnosis in 2021. Most of them are people who worked or lived around asbestos in the past. 


Gunatilake, S, et al, “Predicting survival in malignant pleural mesothelioma using routine clinical and laboratory characteristics”, January 2021, BMJ Open Respiratory Research, https://bmjopenrespres.bmj.com/content/8/1/e000506


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