When you are focused on something for a period of time sometimes you can lose perspective. For the past 10 to 15 years’ experts have been recommending that when diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma that you seek out an experienced medical team at a center for excellence- a team that is involved with research, and can give you your best options. Since this message has been around for the past 15 years or so, it was surprising to read a recent study on what the treatment patterns of patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma actually are. The study is a reminder of the difficulty in diagnosing malignant pleural mesothelioma. In addition to the diagnosing challenge, the importance of encouraging patients to seek further treatment needs to be re-enforced.
A recent retrospective study concentrated on the treatment patterns of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Led by Dr. Marjorie G. Zauderer, MD, MS, Co-Director of the Mesothelioma Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the abstract was presented at the 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting:” Patterns of comorbidity, treatment, resource utilization, and referral in malignant pleural mesothelioma patients in the U.S.” The study used the Market Scan insurance claims database of patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma between January 2004 and December 2015.
The patients were 65.4 percent male and 34.6 were females. The average age was 71 years old. The conditions that they had before diagnosis were chronic pulmonary disease 20.7%, metastatic solid tumor- 17.5%, and diabetes 15.4%.
For treatment, the study found that 51.2% had no chemotherapy, radical surgery was utilized only 4.1% of the time.
The most common diagnosis that patients received at the beginning was pleural effusion-16.6%, chest pain 10.7%, shortness of breath 9.6%. and cough 8.5%.
The time that a patient presented to his MD with lung related symptoms and a diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma was a median time of 77 days. Times ranged from 23 days to 258 days.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer, although there is no cure currently, there are treatment options, that can improve a patient’s quality of life. When there is a delay in diagnosis, treatment options can be limited.
This is a very interesting study and shows there is still much work to be done, and education in order for patients to have the most updated treatment options, in a timely manner.