A recent survey confirmed that aggressive mesothelioma treatment tends to lead toward better health outcomes. It also found that various groups of people are less likely to receive top-quality treatment. As a result, Black people, poorer people and poorly educated individuals suffered worse outcomes.
Published in JAMA, the survey noted there is no direct link between ethnicity or income and treatment outcomes. However, the factor that made the most difference was treatment quality, and the groups that fared worst were often those without access to top-quality treatment.
Curative surgery makes a difference
The researchers behind the survey wondered why some groups of people had lower survival rates than others. Specifically, they wanted to ask why Black patients were 80% more likely to die ahead of the expected survival rate than White patients. To do this, they looked at 1,389 cases of operable malignant pleural mesothelioma. They then split the patients into numerous groups based on different factors, including:
- Course of treatment
- The distance traveled to treatment
They found that the factor that made the greatest positive difference was the use of curative surgery. Patients who had surgery aimed at removing the cancer were 30% more likely to live longer than the expected average.
In other words, the survey’s authors noted that people who could afford to seek specialized treatment were able to get the best results. They added that specialized treatment centers were often more comfortable with surgery than other medical centers. As a result, the differences in outcomes between different races, incomes and educations, as well as the urban and rural divide, might all boil down to the amount of access people have to the best treatment centers.
How can people afford top-quality treatment?
This isn’t the first study to confirm that top-quality treatment is vital. In fact, the researchers behind this recent study had uncovered similar results in 2022. This more recent study largely confirms those earlier findings and explores various factors in greater detail.
The researchers note that top-quality care is crucial partly because doctors who don’t understand mesothelioma as well may steer patients toward palliative care instead of curative care. In other words, they won’t try to fight the disease. They’ll just try to ease the patient’s suffering.
Top-quality care can be expensive, but it’s the best hope patients have. Patients and their families can work with attorneys to claim money from the companies that exposed them to asbestos.