Photodynamic therapy added to lung-sparing surgery improves survival for mesothelioma patients

May 30, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Among patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma, treatment with lung-sparing surgery in combination with photodynamic therapy (PDT) yielded unusually long survival rates, with median survival rates up to two or more years longer than is reported with traditional treatments, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The research is published in the latest issue of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

"While I don't consider anything short of a cure as a victory against mesothelioma, I am encouraged by our results," said Joseph Friedberg, MD, co-director of the Penn Mesothelioma and Pleural Program (PMPP) and lead author of the new study. "Based on our new findings, we are redoubling our clinical and translational research efforts to find a way to further improve and refine this multimodality treatment approach for mesothelioma."

Mesothelioma is one of the most aggressive and deadliest forms of cancer and is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Exposure to asbestos typically precedes development of the cancer by anywhere from 10 to 50 years, but once diagnosed, only about 40 percent of U.S. mesothelioma patients survive one year.

The current study builds off of previous research from the PMPP team that showed lung-sparing surgery plus photodynamic therapy, a light-based , provided superior results for patients with mesothelioma over traditional treatment, which generally involves that includes removing the lung, in combination with chemotherapy and whole chest radiation.

In the new study, 38 mesothelioma patients underwent the lung-sparing surgery and PDT for mesothelioma. The decision to perform lung-sparing was made preoperatively in every case. Thirty seven of 38 patients had advanced stage (III/IV) cancer. At a median follow-up of 34.4 months from the time of operation and PDT, the median overall survival for all 38 patients was 31.7 months. The authors report that the subtype of the cancer was a significant factor with the 31 patients with the epithelial subtype demonstrating a median overall survival of 41.2 months.

The researchers note that although essentially all mesothelioma patients experience disease recurrence, even with aggressive treatment, they are focused on extending the patient's life and improving their quality of life. They believe that having both lungs contributes to quality of life and also puts in a better position to tolerate additional treatments for their recurrence.

"We are working together as a team, not just in the clinic but in the laboratory as well, to find the best way to combine our respective expertise," said Friedberg. "Our goal is an innovative combined treatment that represents a new level of a multipronged attack on this horrendous cancer."

This work was supported, in part, by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (P01 CA-87971).

Explore further: Combination therapy shows promise for rare, deadly cancer caused by asbestos

Related Stories

Combination therapy shows promise for rare, deadly cancer caused by asbestos

June 2, 2011
Pleural mesothelioma patients who undergo lung-sparing surgery in combination with photodynamic therapy (PDT) show superior overall survival than patient treated using the conventional therapy of extrapleural pneumonectomy ...

Renal cancer drug temsirolimus shows promise against mesothelioma

May 1, 2011
A drug commonly used to treat kidney cancer may increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy for mesothelioma, according to a study published in the May issue of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

Pleurectomy/decortication proposed preferred surgical procedure

March 15, 2012
Patients with early stage malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), a cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, may be eligible for aggressive multi-modality therapy involving surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. There ...

Recommended for you

One weight-loss surgery shows lasting results

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Obesity surgery can have long-lasting effects on weight and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, a new study finds.

Hold the phone: An ambulance might lower your chances of surviving some injuries

September 20, 2017
Victims of gunshots and stabbings are significantly less likely to die if they're taken to the trauma center by a private vehicle than ground emergency medical services (EMS), according to results of a new analysis.

Surgeons have major influence on breast cancer treatment

September 13, 2017
A woman's choice of surgeon plays a significant role in whether she's likely to receive an increasingly popular aggressive breast cancer surgery.

Some thyroid cancer patients can safely delay surgery

September 4, 2017
Most people diagnosed with cancer want to start treatment as soon as possible, for fear that delaying care will allow their tumor to grow out of control.

Obese people lack cells with satiety hormones

August 29, 2017
Individuals with severe overweight have an inhibited sense of satiation - they release fewer satiety hormones than people of normal weight. The reason: the responsible cells in the gastrointestinal tract of obese people are ...

Anesthesia and surgery during infancy may impact white matter during childhood

August 24, 2017
General anesthesia and surgery in otherwise healthy infants under the age of 1 year old could be associated with decreases in the amount of white matter in the brain, as well as reductions in the remaining white matter's ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.