Mesothelioma patients may have new hope for improved survival rates, according to a study conducted at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Particularly in patients with peritoneal mesothelioma, there have been considerable improvements in treatment options that have had a positive impact on patients’ long-term prognosis.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is one of the most common types of asbestos-related cancer, the other being pleural mesothelioma. While both diseases have seen improved survival rates, peritoneal mesothelioma has had far greater advances. This is mainly due to the advanced therapies that are currently available to peritoneal patients, and the complicated nature of the lungs versus the abdomen.
Both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma are caused by inhaling or ingesting toxic asbestos fibers. Pleural mesothelioma forms in the lining that surrounds the lungs and chest cavity, called the pleura. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they become lodged in the pleura, which causes scarring that can become cancerous growths. Peritoneal mesothelioma typically develops as a result of ingesting asbestos. When asbestos fibers are swallowed, they can move from the digestive system to the peritoneum, a membrane surrounding the abdominal cavity. Once these toxic fibers are lodged in the peritoneum, it can cause scarring which can develop into cancerous cells.
Wake Forest Mesothelioma Study Results
According to results from the Wake Forest study, the median survival for a peritoneal patient is far greater – almost four times more – than that of a pleural mesothelioma patient. Results of the study showed that the median survival time for pleural patients was 18.4 months, wherein the median survival of peritoneal patients was 75.7 months. One study revealed that doctors have had success with cytoreductive surgery combined with heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC.) This offered patients an overall median survival of close to 4.5 years. Unfortunately, heated chemotherapy combined with equally aggressive surgery has not been as successful in patients with pleural mesothelioma.
The Wake Forest study also looked at the difference between asbestos exposure in an occupational setting versus a non-occupational setting. Over 90% of patients exposed to asbestos at work developed pleural mesothelioma. Fewer than half of the patients who were exposed in a non-occupational setting developed pleural mesothelioma. Patients who were exposed to asbestos outside of work were diagnosed younger, and had a shorter dormancy period between exposure and diagnosis. Most of the non-work asbestos exposure was in women, who proved to be more successful in fighting the disease.
Dr. Jill Ohar, pulmonologist at the Wake Forest Comprehensive Cancer Center, says that too many doctors are quick to prescribe systemic chemotherapy rather than pursue the latest surgical options, which she feels is a big mistake. Unfortunately, she says, too many doctors are unaware of the improvements that have been made in treating mesothelioma.
Ohar is hopeful that the study will encourage other studies that will help further explain the survival gap between pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. Patients in her clinic are living four to seven years after surgery, as opposed to 18 to 24 months.
Philadelphia Asbestos Lawyers at The Shein Law Represent Victims of Asbestos Exposure
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at The Shein Law understand the devastating effects of the disease and are committed to ensuring that you receive the best possible legal representation. We will fight hard to make sure you receive the financial compensation you deserve. Call us at 1-877-SHEINLAW (743-4652) to schedule a free consultation or contact us online. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Pennsauken, New Jersey.