Three treatments are better than one when it comes to malignant pleural mesothelioma. That is the conclusion of a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington.
The team studied mesothelioma patients who received trimodality therapy with radiation between 1980 and 2011 and found that those who had three types of treatment, instead of just one or two, had a median survival more than a third longer than other mesothelioma patients in the same hospital.
The study included 78 eligible mesothelioma patients with a median age at diagnosis of 59. About 60 percent of the mesothelioma patients who were selected for trimodality therapy were in the early stages of the disease. The majority (86%) also had the epithelioid variety of mesothelioma.
In addition to evaluating the treatment outcomes of these patients, the researchers also attempted to determine what other factors had an impact on their survival. They found that age, smoking history, and location also affected their survival. But even among mesothelioma patients who were older or had a history of smoking, trimodality therapy including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, improved their survival odds.
“Trimodality therapy was significantly associated with prolonged survival in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma, even when adjusting for baseline patient factors,” states study author Matthew Kapeles of the University of Washington Medical Center.
In fact, in a model designed to take all risk factors into account, the mesothelioma patients who underwent trimodality therapy with radiation had a median survival of 14.6 months versus 8.6 months in the non-trimodality group. Interestingly, the same odds applied regardless of what type of radiation (photon or neutron) these mesothelioma patients underwent.
The findings are just the latest in a long line of studies that show a survival advantage among mesothelioma patients treated with multiple different therapies. The multimodality approach is especially important for mesothelioma, a treatment resistant cancer for which no one therapy has ever been shown to be more than marginally effective.
The new report will be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Kapeles, M, et al, “Trimodality Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: An Institutional Review”, August 27, 2015, American Journal of Clinical Oncology, Epub ahead of print