Patient health not age should dictate treatment for mesothelioma University academic says

The conclusion of a study by a University team at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, which took place between 1999 and 2015, has suggested that age is not as important in determining treatment options for mesothelioma as previously thought.

Miss Annabel Sharkey, a cardiothoracic surgeon and Clinical Fellow in the Department of Cancer Studies at the University, presented the findings of the study at the 2016 European Lung Cancer Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Miss Sharkey said: “Patients have to be fit enough, not just to withstand the operation, but the follow-up therapy as well. Surgeons when selecting their patients, also have to keep the oncologist’s treatment in mind.

The main thing is, not to discount the idea of surgery just because you’re older. People generally are more fit today than they once were, and that allows more people to benefit from surgery.”

The age of the 282 mesothelioma patients selected for the study was not a discriminatory factor when determining fitness for surgery; a general assessment of overall health formed the main selection criterion. Furthermore the study found that many older patients benefited markedly following extended pleurectomy decortication (EPD) surgery.

Mesothelioma is a rare aggressive form of cancer which commonly starts in the tissues lining the lungs or the abdomen, but can affect the lining of other internal organs.

Until recently the traditional view held my many was that older patients were less likely to experience an improvement in quality of life following EPD surgery in addition to the surgery being potentially dangerous.

However more recent research proposes that this is not the case and that surgical benefits can be experienced by both young and older mesothelioma patients both in terms of survival benefit and quality of life.