For patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, surgery can seem like the lifeline necessary to recover some semblance of health. Unfortunately, it is not the right choice for everyone. Your age will play a significant factor in whether you should consider going under the knife or not.
Surgery, age and survival
A new study from the University of Pennsylvania examined the connection between patients’ ages and their likelihood of surviving extrapleural pneumonectomy or pleurectomy/decortication – two common surgeries for treating malignant melanoma. In examining 11,000 cases, researchers found a revealing link between the age of the patient and their post-op outcome. They discovered that:
- Five percent of surgery patients died within 30 days of the procedure
- Thirteen percent died within three months
By contrast, of mesothelioma patients who did not undergo surgery:
- Ten percent died within 30 days
- Twenty-five percent died within three months
What was the common factor contributing to a patient’s survival? Their age. For every year of age, the likelihood of post-op survival decreased.
Is surgery right for me?
Despite the risks, you and your doctor might still discuss surgery – whether extrapleural pneumonectomy, pleurectomy/decortication or another option. You should discuss your age with your doctor and bring up any concerns you have, particularly if you are a senior citizen. Keep in mind that according to the study, the fatality rate for patients without surgery was nearly twice that of surgical patients.
Even with the frightening link between older age and higher post-op fatality rate, surgery is the only remaining option for some patients. When the tumor has developed in the lungs for several years or even decades, surgical intervention can be the last resort to remove it, prevent its spread or provide some relief from pain. It is up to you, your doctor and your family to decide the best course of treatment.