Aim: The survival of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) who do not seek treatment ranges from 4 to 12 months. To date, the optimal procedure for resection of malignant pleural mesothelioma is controversial, extrapleural pneumonectomy has been most consistently associated with long-term survival and has provided the most radical cytoreduction; but, unfortunately, not all patients qualify for this invasive surgical approach.
Methods: Between 1992 and 2000, 64 patients underwent pleurectomy as a palliative treatment for MPM. This retrospective study evaluates the operative outcome and the impact of some prognostic factors on patients' survival. Preoperative evaluation included chest X-ray, CT and/or MRI. Diagnosis was made by pleural biopsy via needle, open, or VATS biopsy. The Kaplan-Meier curve and the Log-Rank test were used to analyze the data.
Results: The median age of the study group was 65 (with a range of 29-84 years). Thirty-six patients had epithelial histology, and 28 patients had sarcomatoid or mixed type (e.g., epithelial+spindle, epithelial+sarcomatoid). The 30-day mortality rate was 3.1%. The overall survival rate was 43%, 28%, and 10% at 1, 2, and 3 years, respectively. The overall median survival was 9.4 months (ranging from 1.15 to 52.7 months). The overall median survival with epithelial histology (n=36, 56%) was 21.7 months (with a range of 1.4-52.7 months) versus 5.8 months (with a range of 1.15-18.3 months) for the sarcomatoid or mixed type (n=28, 44%), p=0.0001. The morbidity included atrial fibrillation (n=5), wound infection (n=2), prolonged intubation (longer than 24h, n=8), reintubation for respiratory failure (n=2), pulmonary emboli (n=1), UTI (n=16), DVT (n=5), MI (n=4), and postoperative bleeding (n=7). Univariant analysis demonstrated that the only prognostic factors influencing survival in our series was the histologic type. Age, gender, and the affected side of the lung did not affect the median survival.
Conclusion: Our results show that pleurectomy can be performed as a means of palliation for advanced-stage disease with a low mortality rate and may, in fact, improve survival in patients with epithelial subtype as compared with historical controls in the literature with no surgical intervention.