From the blog

Mesothelioma Specialty Centers Offer Better Care for Mesothelioma Patients

Published: September 23, 2022

When mesothelioma patients are treated at mesothelioma specialty centers, they experience better care and survive longer. Kaiser Permanente Northern California Health System compared its performance before and after it transitioned into a specialty care center for mesothelioma. The doctors found a dramatic improvement in patients after the transition. Results were published in the Journal for Thoracic Disease. After the change, mesothelioma patients were three times more likely to receive treatment for their disease. Aggressive surgery rates increased from six percent to 22 percent. Patients were also diagnosed more accurately and treated more aggressively.

Survival rates also increased by an average of 12 months when patients chose a more hands on approach. This shows that mesothelioma patients need to receive treatment at a center that specializes in mesothelioma. The study consisted of 368 mesothelioma patients from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2020. Patients in this group received treatment at the facility before and after it turned into a specialty center. One group had patients from 2009 through 2014 when there were only two surgeons to operate on patients. The second group had 197 mesothelioma patients from 2015 through 2020. There was a thoracic surgeon and a mesothelioma specialist as well as a team of specialists and a tumor board that met weekly to review cases for this group.

The first group only had 43.9 percent of patients receive some type of treatment and only 10 of 171 patients had surgery. The second group had 63 percent of patients receive treatment and 44 of 197 patients had surgery. The median survival for patients who underwent surgery increased from 16.7 months to 22.6 months for both groups. More patients who were eligible for treatment received it after the treatment center converted to a specialty care center for mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is an extremely rare cancer. It is primarily caused by inhaling microscopic asbestos fibers that stay in the body once inhaled, leading to a diagnosis of cancer later in life. Many times, patients choose to forego treatment because they are told side effects are not worth any improvement the treatment would provide. Doctors at the specialty center believe that receiving treatment is incredibly important. Patients can greatly benefit from treatment; people just need to go to the correct treatment center that knows how to treat the disease. If surgery is not possible, other treatments are available to increase a patient’s survival and quality of life. It is not easy to receive treatment, but the other option is to let the disease go, which can reduce survival and cause unnecessary suffering.

S Ossowski et al., “Improving outcomes in malignant pleural mesothelioma in an integrated health care system” Journal for Thoracic Disease (Augist 4, 2022).[Link]
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