Malignant pleural mesothelioma

Eur Respir J. 1998 Oct;12(4):972-81. doi: 10.1183/09031936.98.12040972.


The incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) has risen for some decades and is expected to peak between 2010 and 2020. Up to now, no single treatment has been proven to be effective and death usually occurs within about 12-17 months after diagnosis. Perhaps because of this poor prognosis, early screening has incited little interest. However, certain forms may have a better prognosis when diagnosed early and treated by multimodal therapy or intrapleural immunotherapy. Diagnosis depends foremost on histological analysis of samples obtained by thoracoscopy. This procedure allows the best staging of the pleural cavity with an attempt to detect visceral pleural involvement, which is one of the most important prognostic factors. Although radiotherapy seems necessary and is efficient in preventing the malignant seeding after diagnostic procedures in patients, there has been no randomized phase III study showing the superiority of any treatment compared with another. However, for the early-stage disease (stage I) a logical therapeutic approach seems to be neoadjuvant intrapleural treatment using cytokines. For more advanced disease (stages II and III) resectability should be discussed with the thoracic surgeons and a multimodal treatment combining surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy should be proposed for a randomized controlled study. Palliative treatment is indicated for stage IV. In any case, each patient should be enrolled in a clinical trial.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asbestos / adverse effects
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / diagnosis*
  • Mesothelioma / epidemiology
  • Mesothelioma / etiology
  • Mesothelioma / therapy*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Pleural Neoplasms / etiology
  • Pleural Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate


  • Asbestos