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New Surgical Technique offers hope to Mesothelioma sufferers

Caduceus.jpgResearch from the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania published in the June 2011 issue of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery reveals that patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma whose doctors used a more aggressive surgical approach in treatment of the asbestos-related cancer had better outcomes than those who did not.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Its most common site is the pleura (outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall), but it may also occur in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), the pericardium (a sac that surrounds the heart). Three thousand people die each year from this devastating disease.

Macroscopic complete resection, or the surgical removal of a tumor, can be performed by two different surgical techniques as a treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma: modified extrapleural pneumonectomy (MEPP)*1 which is the traditional lung sacrificing surgery for mesothelioma and radical pleurectomy (RP)*2 and intraoperative PDT which is a lung-sparing surgery in combination with photodynamic therapy. Surgical intervention combined with a treatment that uses a drug, called a photosensitizer or photosensitizing agent, and a particular type of light. When photosensitizers are exposed to a specific wavelength of light, they produce a form of oxygen that kills nearby cells. Each photosensitizer is activated by light of a specific wavelength. This wavelength determines how far the light can travel into the body. Thus, doctors use specific photosensitizers and wavelengths of light to treat different areas of the body with PDT.

Joseph Friedberg, MD, co-director of the Penn Mesothelioma and Pleural Program and the thoracic surgeon who performed the operations cited in the study said “In addition to the overall survival statistics, the difference between having and not having a lung, both with respect to the risk of surgery and the ability to enjoy a normal life after surgery, is crucial for these patients.”



There are inherent advantages of sparing the lung. RP plus PDT yielded a superior overall survival than MEPP plus PDT in this series. The overall survival for the RP plus PDT group was, for unclear reasons, superior to results reported in many surgical series, especially for a cohort with such advanced disease.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we can help you. Our experienced asbestos law firmof Reyes, O’Shea & Coloca, P.A are dedicated to the fight for the rights of these individuals stricken with mesothelioma, who were unknowingly exposed and put at risk. Each case is handled individually and given the attention and priority it deserves by our carefully trained legal team.

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Multimedia Manual of Cardiothoracic Surgery (MMCTS)

*1 The extrapleural pneumonectomy technique consists of five basic steps: (1) Incision and exposure of the parietal pleura: (2) Dissection of the tumor and parietal pleura from the chest wall, diaphragm, and mediastinum: (3) Division and control of the pulmonary vessels and bronchus followed by lymph node dissection: (4) En bloc resection of the lung, pleura, pericardium, and diaphragm; (5) Reconstruction of the diaphragm and pericardium.
*2 A radical pleurectomy is a surgery involving the complete decortification of the lung and parietal pleura. This is a radical and invasive procedure, but significant less so than the alternative extrapleural pheumonectomy.