Management of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma in the Elderly Population

Ann Surg Oncol. 2019 Aug;26(8):2357-2366. doi: 10.1245/s10434-019-07351-6. Epub 2019 Apr 22.


Background: The median age at diagnosis for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is approximately 72 years. Elderly patients pose unique management challenges because of the increased risk of therapy-related toxicities and mortality. Because there are no high-volume retrospective studies, prospective trials, or dedicated treatment recommendations for this population, this investigation addresses a major knowledge gap by examining national practice patterns and postoperative/survival outcomes in elderly MPM patients.

Methods: The National Cancer Database was queried for patients aged ≥ 80 years with newly diagnosed nonmetastatic MPM. Multivariable logistic regression ascertained factors associated with observation and surgery. Kaplan-Meier analysis assessed overall survival (OS), and multivariable Cox proportional hazards modeling examined factors associated with OS. Survival was also calculated following propensity matching. Additionally, postoperative outcomes were evaluated in surgical patients.

Results: Of 4526 patients, 2% received surgery and chemotherapy, 22% underwent chemotherapy alone, and 63% were observed. Respective median OS was 12.2, 9.5, and 4.1 months (p < 0.001). Differences between all groups persisted following propensity matching (all comparisons p < 0.05). For the 8% of patients who underwent specified definitive surgery (95% of whom received pleurectomy/decortication), 30- and 90-day mortality rates were 11.0% and 28.5%, respectively. The median length of postoperative hospitalization was 6 days, with 30-day readmission occurring in 7.5% of patients.

Conclusions: The majority of elderly MPM patients in the US are observed, which was associated with poorer OS than chemotherapy and/or surgery. Although highly selected surgery/chemotherapy patients were associated with the longest OS, given the high biases in database studies and high perioperative mortality rates, careful patient selection for combined modality approaches in this population is imperative.

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / pathology
  • Mesothelioma / therapy*
  • Mesothelioma, Malignant
  • Pleural Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pleural Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate