The risks vs. the benefits of surgery for mesothelioma patients has the medical community torn. While some studies show that surgery is the best option for longer survival, other studies suggest otherwise. Researchers think they may have found a solution to the problem, and it all comes down to a simple blood test.
According to a study published in the Journal of Thoracic Disease, researchers from Canada and Japan developed a “scoring system” taken from blood samples of mesothelioma patients. The test, which measures the ratio between blood platelets and lymphocytes, is said to determine which patients will respond best to mesothelioma surgery.
What is Platelet-to-Lymphocyte Ratio (PLR)?
Platelet-to-lymphocyte ratio (PLR) is an effective way to measure the patient’s immune system, which in turn will help doctors determine which patient is the most suited to handle surgery. When the body’s immune system is attacked, it becomes inflamed it produces more lymphocytes, the medical name for white blood cells. Inflammation usually indicates a poor outlook after surgery.
Physicians at Canada’s Toronto General Hospital tested PLR on 65 mesothelioma patients who underwent the most invasive type of surgery for mesothelioma: extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP). Each patient had a PLR test done prior to surgery, and were then divided according to gender and their PLR score. There were no major difference in age or histology among the patients.
Results show that the patients who had the highest PLR score had the poorest prognosis, with a survival rate that averaged between 19 to 32 months. Patients with the lowest PLR scores had a highever survival rate that averaged a little over 45 months. According to the study’s lead researcher, Tetsuzo Tagawa of Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan,
“The new prognostic score using PLR is simple and useful for predicting the prognosis of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma undergoing EPP.”
EPP has been the most widely used type of surgery for mesothelioma for the past two decades. Part of the reason it’s used the most is due to another type of surgery pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) showing a poor prognosis. Yet, according to the new study, there was never a trial that compared EPP to P/D, which is why the type of surgery performed still remains controversial in the medical world. Yet, with the new PLR test, physicians are hoping that it provides a way to test patients for both types of surgeries.
More information and testing and still needed to determine the maximum effective of PLR, but the studies indicate that it may be a powerful way to determine which patients will fare the best with undergoing invasive surgery, as well as those who probably will not.
Additional Resources and Helpful Information for Mesothelioma Patients
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