A study recently conducted by the Loyola University Health System encourages mesothelioma patients who might have heard horror stories about the surgical procedure known as pleurectomy and decortization (PD) to reconsider the surgery as it has proven to greatly improve quality of life for those suffering from this asbestos-caused cancer.
During the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Dr. Wickii Vigneswaran, MD, division director of thoracic surgery and a professor in the department of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, presented the results of the study that polled patients who had undergone the surgery in hopes of living a more comfortable existence with mesothelioma, which causes severe chest pain, cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue, among other symptoms.
For the study, Vigneswaran and colleagues administered a cancer quality-of-life survey to 114 pleural mesothelioma patients who had undergone the PD surgery. During the surgery, doctors remove the pleura. The procedure can assist in controlling the build-up of fluid, can lessen pain, and will usually improve breathing. The patients who answered the survey ranged in age from 50 to 88 years old, with a median age of 70.
“Prior to surgery, 31 percent of the patients had a performance status score of 0 (fully functional); 65 percent had a performance status score of 1 (able to do light house work or office work); and 4 percent had a performance status of 2 (ambulatory and capable of self-care, but unable to work),” explained the survey team in their synopsis, noting that, after surgery, all patients were also questioned at 1 month, 4-5 months, 7-8 months and 10-11 months post procedure.
The survey included questions about overall functioning (including physical, emotional, and cognitive); general cancer-related symptoms (nausea and vomiting, pain, etc.); individual symptoms; and overall health. Improved quality of life was evident within one month after surgery and continued for all patients through the last survey.
“The net benefit of pleurectomy and decortication justifies the procedure in the majority of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma,” Dr. Vigneswaran explained to the crowd of doctors.
It used to be that the procedure was only recommended for mesothelioma patients in the very early stages of the disease. However, because mesothelioma is often not diagnosed until Stage 3 or 4, doctors began recommending the procedure to patients with more advanced stages of this aggressive cancer.
Given the Loyola study, it seems that the surgery may provide more help than originally suggested with fewer complications than predicted.
It’s important to note, however, that none of the surgical procedures suggested to treat mesothelioma offer a cure, though they may possibly extend the life of the patient and will certainly lessen some very uncomfortable and debilitating symptoms of the disease.
In addition, these treatments can also be quite expensive, especially if one’s insurance does not cover the costs. That’s why many individuals turn to seeking compensation via a lawsuit filed against the company or companies responsible for their exposure in order to relieve their financial burden.