Raleigh, N.C. (PRWEB) June 28, 2012
A new study confirms that mesothelioma survival is largely dependent on three things: age at the time of diagnosis, mesothelioma subtype, and location of the cancer.
The results of the large Netherlands-based population study were published recently in the British Journal of Cancer. A total of 1353 mesothelioma patients were followed between 2005 and 2008. Half of the patients studied were 70 years old or older at the time of diagnosis and the median time since they were first exposed to asbestos was 49 years.
A year after diagnosis, 47% of patients were still living. After two year, 20% were still alive and after 3 years, only 15% were still living. When the cases were analyzed, several clear trends emerged that confirm what past research has found. First, younger patients tend to fair better than older patients. This may be due in part to better overall health that makes it easier for younger patients to tolerate treatments such as chemotherapy or surgery.
Second, patients who had the sarcomatoid subtype of mesothelioma did not respond to treatment nearly as well as those with the epithelioid or biphasic subtypes. Multiple studies have confirmed that patients with the epithelioid subtype, which is the most common type of mesothelioma, tend to survive longer than patients with either of the other two types.
Finally, patients whose mesothelioma was confined to the pleura, the thin membrane that encases the lungs, lived longer and responded better to treatment than did those who mesothelioma occurred in or spread to other parts of the body. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the cell membrane called the peritoneum that surrounds the abdominal organs. It is more likely to occur when asbestos is ingested. A third location for malignant mesothelioma is the pericardium, the lining that surrounds the heart.
Treatment for all three types of mesothelioma is improving. Because mesothelioma is resistant to conventional therapies, many ongoing studies are focused on new approaches such as gene therapy and immunotherapy.
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