Despite harsh side effects, surgery has proven to be one of the most beneficial treatment options for mesothelioma patients. A new study shows that surgery greatly improves survival rate, no matter how old the patient is.
Scientists from Duke University and Sanford University researched information from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, to see if there was a link with a mesothelioma patient’s age and their outlook after surgery. They specifically looked at the data for older mesothelioma patients (ages 70+) from 2004 and 2010. According the author of the study, Duke University surgeon Chi-Fu Jeffrey Yang, MD,
“[Surgery] patients 70 years and older had improved 1-year and 3-year overall survival compared with nonoperative management.”
Out of the 879 mesothelioma patients who met the criteria and underwent surgery for treatment, the majority fared well afterwards, with an overall improves survival rate. For instance, the results showed that at the one-year mark after surgery, patients over the age of 70 had a better survival rate of 20% when compared to those who didn’t have surgery. Twice as many mesothelioma patients over the age of 70 survived at the two-year mark when compared to non-surgery mesothelioma patients of the same age.
Dr. Yang also said that survival rate among anyone, regardless of age, tends to be better if the patient goes through surgery.
“Surgical treatment is associated with improved survival compared with nonoperative management for both patients younger than 70 years and patients aged 70 years or older.”
The results are good news for elderly mesothelioma patients, yet most people over the age of 70 don’t go through surgery. Even if their health and other qualifications needed meet the criteria to become a candidate for surgery, elderly patients usually aren’t recommended to undergo surgery as treatment for mesothelioma.
However, the results from the new study may entice physicians to consider surgery for older patients and it may also encourage older patients to seek out surgery for treatment. Before surgery is an option though, patients must meet certain requirements. Doctors will look at the stage of the disease and the patient’s overall health before recommending surgery. Since surgery is considered an aggressive form of treatment, patients need to be in relatively good physical shape in order to withstand the treatment, as well as hold up during follow-up therapy.
According to Dr. Annabel Sharkey, of the University of Leicester in the U.K., once patients qualify for surgery, regardless of age, they typically experience a profound increase in the quality of their lives.
“The main thing is, don’t discount the idea of surgery just because you’re older. eople generally are more fit today than they once were, and that allows more people to benefit from surgery.”
Additional Help and Resources for Mesothelioma Patients
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