Eligibility for Mesothelioma Surgeries not Determined by Age

July 28, 2018
Eligibility for Mesothelioma Surgeries

It would stand to reason that most surgeries related to a cancerous disease would have a better chance of success in patients who were younger. But, a 2017 study by the Department of Cancer Studies at the University of Leicester revealed that age doesn’t play much of a role in predicting the outcome of a mesothelioma-related surgery. While risk is certainly present, it was generally about the same for older patients as it was for younger ones. The study was published in the journal, Interactive CardioVascular and Thoracic Surgery.

Researchers took a look at 300 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma, the most common form of the disease that emerges in the lining of the lungs (pleura). All 300 had undergone extended pleurectomy decortication (EPD), a surgery that removes part of the pleura. Scientists split that initial patient pool into two groups: patients under 70 years old (of which there were 218) and patients 70 years old and above (of which there were 82).

The study showed no significant difference between the two patient groups. Indeed, age was not a factor in determining any of the following:

  • The length of the hospital stay post-surgery
  • 30-day mortality rates
  • 90-day mortality rates

Two factors did emerge as predictors of EPD outcomes: whether or not the cancer had spread to the patient’s lymph nodes and whether or not they underwent chemotherapy treatments either before or after the surgery. If the cancer had spread to a patient’s lymph nodes, the results were often worse. By contrast, the surgery was more of a success if patients underwent chemotherapy.

When considering surgery as a treatment option, the researchers suggested that age should not be a determining factor. Instead, doctors should assess each patient’s case individually. Surgery may be contraindicated if doctors believe that the patient’s ability to undergo chemotherapy will be compromised after the operation. The procedure was also not recommended if long-term post-surgery intensive care might be required.

Ultimately, the study urged medical professionals to remain selective in regard to which patients receive surgery. But, precluding a patient based on their advanced age is unnecessary and potentially unhelpful. Of course, the goal of any mesothelioma-related surgery is to remove as much of a tumor as possible. Other surgical options such as the Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (which removes an entire lung) are also on the table in certain instances.

No one wants to undergo surgery, but if it has the potential to save your life, then you will obviously jump at the opportunity. What this study shows is that hope is not lost if you are diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma and over the age of 70. We know that mesothelioma is brought on by exposure to asbestos, and, unfortunately, there’s no way to reverse exposure once it’s happened. But, new treatment options are always being researched.

If you have been diagnosed with any type of mesothelioma, it can be hard to swallow. Still, litigation against employers or corporations who allowed asbestos exposure to happen is always an option.