Earlier this week, we began a two-part series discussing a new mesothelioma treatment breakthrough that was achieved by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. Aside from potentially erasing the need for a complete lung removal in patients suffering from pleural mesothelioma, the combination of a partial removal plus photodynamic light therapy may extend the life span of mesothelioma patients.
Although mesothelioma may not develop for between 20 and 50 years following exposure to asbestos, patients have a startlingly short remaining life span – between nine and 12 months – once the disease’s symptoms begin to show. In the Pennsylvania study, researchers found that the traditional treatment method of an extrapleural pneumonectomy, which removes both the lung and the diseased lining around it, does little to extend that survival time.
However, the new treatment combining the surgical removal of just the lung lining and photodynamic light therapy (PDT) could more than double that survival time.
In the Pennsylvania study, researchers compared 14 patients who underwent the complete lung removal to another 14 who were treated with partial surgery and PDT. All study participants had advanced state III and IV cancer. The first group had a median survival period of just 8.4 months. In comparison, many members of the second group were still alive two years after their surgical procedure and PDT treatment, to the extent that researchers were unable to calculate a median survival time.
Clearly, there is still much to learn about the study, and about PDT and pleural mesothelioma treatment methods as a whole. However, researchers believe that PDT may soon become a backbone of multi-pronged treatments for mesothelioma.
Source: AboutMesothelioma.net, “Light-based Photo Therapy May Brighten Future of Pleural Mesothelioma Patients,” 29 June 2011