Mesothelioma health care providers attending the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago listened with interest to a presentation of researchers’ findings that the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) with pleurectomy and decortication (PD) results in an improved quality of life for most patients. “Veterans and others struggling with pleural mesothelioma may want to discuss the study with their own doctors,” says Michael Armitage, a prominent asbestos attorney in Los Angeles with Waters Kraus & Paul. Caused by asbestos exposure, mesothelioma is a fatal cancer with few treatment options. The disease develops for decades in the body before producing any symptoms. By that time, the aggressive cancer usually has reached the late stages. This is why many U.S. Navy veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their service in Korea or Vietnam are only now being diagnosed — mesothelioma is a latent disease.
Illinois Researchers Find Pleural Mesothelioma Patients Treated with Pleurectomy and Decortication Report Improved Quality of Life
Pleural mesothelioma develops in the pleura, the thin tissue lining that encases the lungs. With the pleurectomy and decortication surgery, the surgeon removes the pleura, the spot where the bulk of the tumor has grown. The procedure does not offer a cure, but it does ease the physical restriction on the lungs caused by the tumor. This, in turn, allows the lungs to expand more naturally, which improves breathing, controls pain caused by the pressure of the tumor on the lung and also helps to prevent the buildup of fluid.
Some mesothelioma patients shy away from the surgery, however, because they want to avoid a painful recovery period or they worry that the procedure will actually do more harm than good. “Most of our clients at Waters Kraus & Paul are focused on making the most of the time they have with their families,” confirms Gary Paul, asbestos attorney in the firm’s Los Angeles office.
Dr. Wickii Vigneswaran, a physician with the Chicago Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University, wanted to learn the thoughts of pleural mesothelioma patients who had actually undergone the procedure. Vigneswaran led a team of researchers who surveyed 114 patients. Ranging in age from 50 to 88, the average patient participating in the survey was 70-years- old. The team asked for patients’ input at four different times after the surgery — one month, four to five months, seven to eight months and ten to eleven months. All patients reportedly described an improved quality of life after the pleurectomy procedure, at the early one-month survey point and continuing on through the late ten-month point. According to Vigneswaran, the encouraging survey results reveal that, for the majority of patients, the benefits of pleurectomy and decortication for pleural mesothelioma outweigh the risks.
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