Many people assume that a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma is met with immediate medical action – that a person diagnosed with this rare and fatal form of cancer would automatically begin seeking out the most innovative medical care available in order to prolong their life as much as possible. But a new study from the National Cancer Institute is calling that notion into question. According to a report published in the journal Lung Cancer, there is a large percentage of U.S. patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma who are choosing not to pursue any type of cancer treatment at all, and that is being reflected in the length of their survival from the time of their diagnosis. In exploring the patterns of care and survival among this patient population, the researchers were able to identify specific trends among those with different types of the disease, as well as in different age groups.
Among the findings reported by the National Cancer Institute researchers were significant characteristic differences between those diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma and those with peritoneal mesothelioma, as well as marked differences in survival times between those who chose to pursue cancer treatment versus those who opted out. Where nearly 80% of those diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma – the most common form of the disease, which affects the lung and chest – were male and older, the patients diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, which impacts the organs in the abdomen, tended to be younger. The peritoneal patients also were more likely to pursue chemotherapy and surgical interventions. As a result, non pleural patients had a median survival that was ten months longer than that of the pleural mesothelioma patients, though those with pleural mesothelioma who did pursue traditional interventions demonstrated the best overall survival rates.
The report is generating concern among mesothelioma’s healing community about how effectively treatment options are being communicated to different patient communities. As physicians and scientists continue to expand the therapies that are available to those diagnosed with both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, longer survival times are being experienced and patients are able to benefit from improved quality of life during that extended period of time. The study’s lead author, Lindsey Enewold, wrote, “These findings indicate the need for efforts to ensure equitable application of currently available therapies to all patients.”
Mesothelioma takes a huge physical, emotional and financial toll on those who are affected by it. For information on the resources available to help, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.