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Study: Mesothelioma Treatment Option Leads to "Long Survival Rates"

By Paul A. Achoa Health & Fitness Expert


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According to a recent study at the University of Pennsylvania, photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a surprisingly effective mesothelioma treatment option when combined with lung-sparing surgery. In their study, researchers reported that the combination treatment yielded better survival rates than extrapleural pneumonectomy, the conventional treatment for patients stricken by mesothelioma.

"Unusually long overall survival rates"

Mesothelioma is one of the most deadly, aggressive forms of cancer, usually caused when people are exposed to asbestos. Exposure typically precedes disease development by 10 to 50 years; however, once the cancer occurs, average survival rates tend to fall between only 9 to 12 months.

According to Joseph Friedberg, MD, the surgeon who performed the lung-sparing surgeries in the study, unlike patients who received traditional mesothelioma treatment options, such as complete, lung sacrificing surgery, patients in the study experienced unusually long overall survival rates. In fact, Friedberg said most patients were still alive two years after treatment, when the research results were analyzed. Friedberg says these results are not typical in his field, especially since the majority of mesothelioma patients are older and have advanced form of the cancer.

What is photodynamic therapy (PDT) therapy?

Unlike radiation treatments that pass through the body, photodynamic therapy penetrates just a short distance, which ultimately preserves the lung. PDT therapy aims to destroy microscopic remnants of the disease, while boosting the body's natural immune responses.

According to Friedberg, the study's primary goal was to limit lung tissue damage to preserve the quality of life for patients; however, the researchers were caught off guard when their analysis revealed substantially longer survival rates for patients who were able to retain both of their lungs.