Pleural Mesothelioma Study Evaluates Prolonged Survival

According to a story from, patients surviving for five years or more with pleural mesothelioma is still uncommon. However, in those that do, exposure to lower levels of asbestos seems to be the most decisive factor, a recent study has determined. This study evaluated the characteristics of 43 patients who had survived for five or more years and compared them to a larger control group.

About Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly cancer that originates from the lining of tissue that surrounds most of the body’s internal organs, called the mesothelium. Mesothelioma is known as the type of cancer that most commonly originates from exposure to asbestos. Over eighty percent of cases are directly linked to such exposure. It most commonly appears in the lining of the lungs and chest wall, but can also occur around the heart, around the testes, and along the abdominal lining. Symptoms of mesothelioma are variable depending on the location but may include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, coughing, weight loss, and a swollen abdomen. They develop slowly, and cancer often appears several decades after exposure. It responds poorly to treatment, with five year survival rate sitting around eight percent. Around 20,000 people in the US get diagnosed every year. There is a dire need for more effective treatment options in this form of cancer. To learn more about mesothelioma, click here.

About The Study

Earlier studies have found a poor survival rate for mesothelioma that consistently sits in the single digits (around 5-8 percent). The researchers acknowledge that the main reasons for this abysmal rate of survival are a combination of a late diagnosis in many cases and a poor response to treatment. Nevertheless, the researchers knew that a small number of patients achieved long-term survival and sought to understand why.

Mesothelioma is tough to diagnose, and the scientists at first wondered if the longer-survivor patients had been misdiagnosed, but a re-evaluation refuted this idea. Factors linked to long-term survival included younger patient age, better performance status at diagnosis, being female, and exposure to asbestos that was not linked to occupation.

By the end of the study, three patients in the original 43 were still alive and 10 had died from something other than pleural mesothelioma. Meanwhile, all patients in the control group (84 in total) had died by that time. 

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