Study Identifies Prognostic Factors in Mesothelioma Effusion Patients, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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Greek researchers say three factors can help clinicians with treatment planning for patients with this common symptom.

These factors may help physicians select patients for treatment and/or interventional procedures.

Mesothelioma patients suffering with a buildup of fluid around their lungs known as pleural effusion typically face a poor prognosis. But a new study published in Respiration and reported by Surviving Mesothelioma suggests that some patients are likely to respond better to treatment than others.

Although a number of different conditions, including lung injury and congestive heart failure can also cause pleural effusion, cancer is one of the primary causes. Lung cancer, breast cancer, and mesothelioma all carry a higher likelihood of pleural effusion which is often the underlying cause of mesothelioma symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough.

Researchers in the Department of Pneumonology at the Medical School of Alexandroupolis in Greece studied the cases of 90 consecutive pleural effusion patients who were found to have cancer after undergoing thoracoscopy. The majority of patients (53%) were men with a median age of 69. Just over 12% of the patients were diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The rest had either lung or breast cancer.

The median overall survival for all cancer patients with pleural effusion was 11 months. By comparing the particular characteristics of each case with survival data, the researchers determined that performance status (a measure of overall health), microscopic anatomy (histology) of the primary tumor, and neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio were the three factors with the greatest impact on survival. Neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio has been used as a way to measure systemic inflammation, an indicator of the severity of disease.

Summarizing their findings in Respiration, the authors conclude, “These factors may help physicians select patients for treatment and/or interventional procedures.” Mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat, often claiming patients’ lives within a year of diagnosis. Scientists around the world continue to search for prognostic factors and biomarkers that can help clinicians tailor treatment and improve outcomes.

The original study was published in the most recent issue of Respiration. (Anevlavis, S, et al, “Prognostic factors in patients presenting with pleural effusion revealing malignancy”, January 22, 2014, Respiration, Epub ahead of print,

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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