Mesothelioma EPP Surgery Could Pose High Risks

Mesothelioma has no cure, and researchers are constantly trying to find new and better ways to deal with and treat it. A recent study examined the various types of surgery in use to help with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The study shows that there are quite a few risks involved with the surgery, and that patients may want to rethink the invasive surgery approach.

Joint Study Shows Risks

Thoracic surgeons from Stanford University and UCLA, as well as cardiothoracic surgeons from the University of Chicago and the University of Washington, and Duke biostatisticians worked together in this study. They studied 225 mesothelioma patients found through the Society of Thoracic Surgeons-General Thoracic Database who underwent one of two different types of surgeries for their mesothelioma – pleurectomy/decortications, or P/D, or extrapleural pneumonectomy, or EPP.

Understanding the Invasiveness of EPP

Pneumonectomy means that the surgeons remove the lung from the patient. This is the most invasive approach to trying to deal with mesothelioma. It removes the lung that is the closest to the tumor as well as the pleural lining. It is within this pleural lining that the mesothelioma begins. In addition, the surgeon will likely remove all, or at least part, of the diaphragm. They may also remove any other tissue in the area that they feel could be at risk. This is a major surgery, and the risk of complications is quite high even with skilled surgeons. Infection and even death can result from EPP. Despite the dangers, many patients who have mesothelioma choose to use this option because they and their doctors feel it is their best chance at actually surviving. The other type of surgery, P/D, is not quite as dangerous, but it is still invasive. During P/D, the surgeons will remove the pleural lining around the lungs and they will attempt to remove any cancerous lesions from the lungs. In addition, the surgeons might find they also need to remove part of the diaphragm or pericardium around the heart. In this recent study, 130 of the patients went through the P/D procedure, and 95 of the patients when through the EPP surgery. The surgeries were across several different medical centers, some of which specialized in P/D and others that specialized in EPP. The patients for both of these groups were similar according to the researchers. The only difference was that some of the EPP patients were younger. Some of the EPP patients also had undergone chemotherapy before going through the surgery.

The Findings

The research team published their findings in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. The cases of morbidity, or death, were much higher for those patients who were undergoing EPP. This includes the instances of acute respiratory distress syndrome. Overall, they found that there was a much higher risk associated with EPP than with P/D as a form of mesothelioma treatment. However, the doctors also concede that more research needs to occur so they can learn more about how to possibly decrease the morbidity rate and deal better with mesothelioma.

Which Surgery Is Right?

For mesothelioma sufferers, deciding which type of treatment and surgery to use is the most important decision of their life. Instead of merely looking at the results of these and other studies, speak with doctors and family to determine the best course of action based on your current health and what gives you the best chance of survival. If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma, get the best help possible for your health condition. In addition, speak with an attorney about your legal rights as well as what you need to do to get the damages you and your family deserve. Previous: Baylor College of Medicine to Have Mesothelioma Program Headed by Dr. David Sugarbaker Next: Three Key Areas for Mesothelioma Research: Causes and prevention