Mesothelioma is not easy to diagnose. Symptoms often mimic other ailments and patients often do not make the connection between asbestos exposure and their illness. Once mesothelioma is diagnosed, patients are often given a poor prognosis – typically less than one year. However, with recent advancements in treatments and immunotherapies, those suffering from mesothelioma are able to outlive their initial timed prognosis. In order to give a more accurate time frame of potential survival in mesothelioma patients, researchers out of Fudan University in China have developed a nomogram, which is a type of diagram that shows relations between quantities, values, and numbers.
There are many factors that go into an initial mesothelioma prognosis that can be different for each patient. These factors include age, sex, race, tumor stage, histology, when the individual was diagnosed, and if the patient received any sort of treatment (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, etc.) beforehand. According to the study published in the World Journal of Surgery data was taken from the aforementioned factors and analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazard model.
A total of 1,092 mesothelioma cases were evaluated. The one, two, and three-year survival rates in the entire cohort was 45.1, 23.0, and 12.1%, with median survival of 11 months. The Cox analysis showed that the age, race, histology, prior treatment, and stage of cancer were all independent factors regarding prognosis in mesothelioma patients. Survival predictions made using the nomogram were then compared to results from actual treatment. This, and individual characteristics, allowed for scientists and researchers to make more accurate predictions regarding a patient’s survival.
Having an accurate prognosis in any type of illness plays an important role not only in preparation for the future, but for determining what course of action is best to take regarding treatment. For example, a patient that has accurately been told that his or her prognosis is only a few months, a more rigorous treatment regime could be recommended (or in some cases, only palliative care). With mesothelioma being such an aggressive illness in nature, it’s important to receive the most effective treatment early on to increase chances for survival. The nomogram aims to do just that – providing doctors more accurate numbers on survival, so doctors can give their patients the best possible course of treatment.
Wang, S, et al, “A Nomogram to Predict Prognosis in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma” World Journal of Surgery (December 28, 2017). [Link]