Research Finds VAT Procedure May Improve Life Quality in Late-Stage Mesothelioma, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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UK researchers says mesothelioma patients who undergo minimally invasive VAT partial pleurectomy may have less trouble breathing and better quality-of-life than those who have talc pleurodesis.

Outcome data showed...better control of their pleural effusion, easier breathing, and a higher quality-of-life.

In a 10-year study presented at the 15th World Conference on Lung Cancer in Sydney, Australia and detailed by Surviving Mesothelioma, UK researchers found a significant quality-of-life advantage among mesothelioma patients whose pleural effusion was treated with a video-assisted surgical procedure over those treated more traditionally.

Pleural effusion, a buildup of fluid in the lining around the lungs (pleura), is one of the top problems for people with late-stage mesothelioma because it can severely limit their ability to breathe. Researchers from 9 centers in the UK followed 196 mesothelioma patients, many of whom suffered with pleural effusion, from 2003 to 2012 as part of a trial called MesoVATS. They recently presented their findings to lung cancer experts from around the world

Eighty-seven (87) mesothelioma patients underwent video-assisted thoracoscopic (VAT) partial pleurectomy which removes a portion of the pleural lining through tiny “keyhole” incisions under video guidance. Eighty-eight (88) patients had the more traditional treatment for pleural effusion called talc pleurodesis, which involves putting talc between the layers of lung lining to close up the space where fluid was collecting. The average age of patients in the study was 69 and most (75%) had a history of exposure to asbestos.

The study contained both good and bad news for mesothelioma patients suffering from pleural effusion. The bad news is that the VAT procedure did not improve mesothelioma survival over talc pleurodesis, which contradicts the findings of earlier, smaller studies. The one-year survival rate for those who underwent talc pleurodesis was 57% compared to 52% for those who had VAT partial pleurectomy, a difference too small to be considered statistically significant.

But the VAT patients did have an important advantage: Outcome data showed that these mesothelioma patients experienced better control of their pleural effusion, easier breathing, and a higher quality-of-life than patients in the talc group. In fact, the researchers concluded that pleural effusion was “significantly improved” by VAT partial pleurectomy.

Unfortunately, the VAT group of mesothelioma patients also had more complications and longer hospital stays after their procedure than the talc group did. But principal investigator Robert Rintoul, MD, from Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, UK, says the study raises the question of whether this procedure should be offered to more mesothelioma patients as a way to improve the quality of their remaining months. The next stage of the study will use the collected data to analyze which types of patients did best with which procedure.

The original study was a featured abstract presented at the 15th World Conference on Lung Cancer. (Rintoul, Robert, et al, “MesoVATS: A multi-centre randomized controlled trial of video assisted thoracoscopic pleurectomy versus talc pleurodesis in malignant pleural mesothelioma: October 29, 2013, Plenary Session, Presidential Symposium Including Top Rated Abstracts, World Conference on Lung Cancer,

For nearly ten years, Surviving Mesothelioma has brought readers the most important and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. All Surviving Mesothelioma news is gathered and reported directly from the peer-reviewed medical literature. Written for patients and their loved ones, Surviving Mesothelioma news helps families make more informed decisions.

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Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthy
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