Surviving mesothelioma now a possibility with 'tri-modal' treatment


mesotheliomaA tri-modal approach to mesothelioma treatment – chemotherapy to shrink the cancer, surgery to remove it and radiotherapy to prevent its return – is beginning to bear fruit for some patients.

In a recent report from Italy, physicians described the case of a young Peruvian woman admitted to hospital with shortness of breath and other non-specific symptoms. A CT scan confirmed pleural mesothelioma: an aggressive and usually fatal cancer which attacks the lining of the lungs, or pleura.

The patient underwent 2 cycles of chemotherapy prior to surgery, followed by an extrapleural pneumonectomy: a radical procedure that involves removing the cancerous membrane along with other membranes, the closest lung and sometimes the diaphragm. After 6 months, the patient received external beam radiation.

Using a combination of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and CT scanning, doctors watched for a return of mesothelioma. However, 4 years on, the patient remains free of cancer and in good health.

"This clinical case shows a disease-free survival interval of 4 years for malignant pleural mesothelioma," noted the researchers. "A good staging system and a combined treatment involving surgery, neoadjuvant chemotherapy and adjuvant radiation therapy represents a useful strategy not only to contain local disease progression, but even to increase disease-free survival in pleural mesothelioma."

Other studies have confirmed that the younger patients are at time of diagnosis, the greater the likelihood they will survive mesothelioma. General health, length of asbestos exposure and any history of smoking could also be important factors.

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