Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania reported in Annals of Thoracic Surgery that combining photodynamic therapy (PDT) with surgery may lead to significantly longer survival rates (up to 2 years more than other treatments) for pleural mesothelioma patients.
Mesothelioma, a very aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, is known internationally as one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Only 4 in 10 mesothelioma patients survive more than one year after diagnosis.
Joseph Friedberg, M.D., lead author of the study, says, “While I don’t consider anything short of a cure as a victory against mesothelioma, I am encouraged by our results. 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.”
In an earlier study, Friedberg’s team showed that traditional mesothelioma treatment falls short in comparison to lung-sparing surgery combined with photodynamic therapy. Traditional mesothelioma treatment referred to includes the removal of a lung, chest radiation, and chemotherapy.
In this study 38 mesothelioma patients underwent lung-saving surgery with photodynamic therapy. All but one patient had advanced mesothelioma (stage III or IV). Upon follow-up 34 months after PDT and surgery, the median overall survival rate was 31.7 months.
According to the study authors, mesothelioma patients’ oncologists focus mainly on improving life quality and extending the lives of their patients. If a mesothelioma patient is able to keep both lungs, they are in a better position to tolerate treatment, and consequently live longer.