Pleural mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that has been notoriously difficult to treat. Caused by asbestos exposure, the latency period between the time of initial exposure and disease spans decades and generally by the time the cancer is detected, it is highly advanced.
Surgical treatments for those with pleural mesothelioma are generally more successful for overall survival when compared to other traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. However, the different surgical procedures recommended (pleurodesis, pleurectomy/peritonectomy) are delicate and can sometimes limit other treatment options. Patients who are able to have surgery must be in good overall health as this treatment is taxing on the body and recovery time is significant. Since the cancer is often caught in the later stages, the patient’s health is already in severe decline and surgery is not an option.
Recent findings published in the Journal of Visualized Surgery hope to provide new options for those who are suffering from mesothelioma and cannot handle an invasive surgical procedure. This new minimally invasive video-assisted procedure aims to reduce symptoms, recovery time, and improve quality of life, but has yet to be linked with tumor debulking and overall survival. Known as PlasmaJet ablation, plasma energy is used to dissect, and eliminate tumor tissue without cutting, but through small incisions guided by video. The fragile tissue is then resealed.
The most recent case study was applied to a 76-year-old male who was a lifelong smoker. He experienced shortness of breath which progressed over time and cytology tests confirmed biphasic mesothelioma with pleural thickening. The patient then received combination treatments that involved PlasmaJet ablation and talc pleurodesis. Results showed fluid remained drained three-weeks; however, the patient continued to be monitored by the oncology department. Overall, scientists and researchers feel confident that their findings demonstrate safety as no major adverse effects were reported and are excited to continue their research.
A mesothelioma diagnosis can often times feel like a death sentence. However, scientists and researchers are continually finding new techniques, procedures, and combination treatments that have benefited those who are suffering from the asbestos-caused disease.
Periklis, Perikleous et. al. “Video-assisted Thoracoscopic Plasmajet Ablation For Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma” Journal of Visualized Surgery (March 2018). [Link]