Can Second Line Surgery Prolong Mesothelioma Survival?

Patients with mesothelioma typically go through first line treatments of surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation treatment. Yet, a new study suggests that mesothelioma patients who undergo a second line treatment of surgery may have a longer survival rate when compared to those who don’t receive a second line of treatment.

According to an in-depth study performed by physicians and scientists at the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland, patients who underwent a second-line surgery treatment had a higher survival rate when compared to those who opted out of the treatment. A total of 136 patients participated in the study between 1999-2003. All of the patients underwent “macroscopic complete resection (MCR) by extrapleural pneumonectomy.”

A total of 106 of the patients’ tumors returned after their first line of treatment. Out of the 106 patients, 76 of them decided to try surgery as a second line of treatment. The results indicate that those who opted for surgery as a second treatment line had the best post-recurrence mesothelioma survival (PRS). According to the lead author of the study, Arthur Kostron, MD,

“The median PRS after surgery was significantly longer than that of patients receiving chemo-, radio-, or chemo-radiotherapy. “

The study also found numerous factors about mesothelioma relapses, including:

  • For patients with pleural mesothelioma, the tumors generally return to the same area the the original tumor formed
  • Radiation after surgery helps prevent the tumor from returning, but doesn’t extend survival rates
  • When the tumors return to the same area, patients have a likelihood to survive around five months longer

Surgery Risks

It’s important to understand that while a second line treatment of surgery may extend the survival rates of mesothelioma patients, it comes with risks, and not all patients will qualify. In fact, the American Cancer Society (ACS) states that surgery comes with extreme risks and side effects, and patients in poor health generally will not qualify. Risks and side effects include:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Infections
  • Heart rhythm changes
  • Pneumonia
  • Additional fluid buildup in the chest area
  • Lung function loss
  • Pain after surgery

The ACS states that not every patient will experience the aforementioned side effects, but because the risk is there, patients must be screened medically before surgery is allowed.

Surgery Recovery

After surgery, the recovery period usually lasts around 10 weeks. Keep in mind that during this time, it’s important to keep all medical appointments and to rest as much as possible. Don’t try to resume normal activities too soon or it may delay the recovery process.

Furthermore, the surgery recovery process will also depend on the type of surgery the patient receives. For instance, extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) may take an additional month to recover when compared to other types of surgeries. Patients who undergo pleurectomy with decortication surgery usually have a recovery time of about month, while those who undergo cytoreductive surgery usually recover for weeks while still in the hospital, followed by an additional month or so while at home.

Help and Resources for Mesothelioma Victims

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other illness related to asbestos, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. There is currently over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who are victims to asbestos-related diseases. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool today to find a leading mesothelioma attorney in your area.

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Kostron, A, et al, “Relapse pattern and second-line treatment following multimodality treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma,” November 20, 2015, European Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Epub ahead of print.