Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have named what they say are the top six mesothelioma survival factors.
According to their new study, patients with one or more of these factors tend to have better mesothelioma treatment outcomes and live longer.
Malignant mesothelioma – also called asbestos cancer – is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. It starts on internal membranes and spreads quickly. There is no cure and the disease is very hard to slow down. Many mesothelioma patients die within 12 to 18 months.
But there are cases of much longer mesothelioma survival. Some patients have even lived for decades after mesothelioma treatment.
The Pittsburgh researchers wanted to find the mesothelioma survival factors shared by the longest living patients.
Gathering Data on Mesothelioma Survival
The group started with data from the National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank. The NMVB saves information about mesothelioma cases in the US.
Researchers focused on 888 cases of peritoneal mesothelioma or pleural mesothelioma. Patients were diagnosed between 1990 and 2017.
Pleural mesothelioma grows on the lining around the lungs and is hardest to treat. Peritoneal mesothelioma grows on the lining around the abdomen. It makes up about a fifth of all mesothelioma cases.
Identifying Survival Factors
The median overall survival rate of the mesothelioma patients in the study was 15 months. Pleural mesothelioma patients had a median survival of 14 months. The median survival among the peritoneal mesothelioma patients was 31 months.
When the researchers analyzed the cases, they found six top factors associated with longer survival:
- 45 or younger
- Epithelioid mesothelioma subtype
- Stage 1 cancer (very little spread)
- Peritoneal mesothelioma
- Treated with both surgery and chemotherapy
Combined Treatment Impacts Mesothelioma Survival
Doctors already knew that peritoneal mesothelioma patients usually live longer than people with pleural mesothelioma.
But one of the most important discoveries from the new study is that peritoneal mesothelioma patients lived longest with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.
According to the findings, these patients lived as much as 23 months longer than other patients when they had both kinds of treatment.
But the study also contained some sobering news: Overall mesothelioma survival has not changed for many years, even with more advanced treatments.
Amin, W, et al, “Factors influencing malignant mesothelioma survival: a retrospective review of the National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank cohort”, December 19, 2018