Extrapleural pneumonectomy or supportive care: treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma?

Sumera Sharif, Imran Zahid, Tom Routledge, Marco Scarci
Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery 2011, 12 (6): 1040-5
A best evidence topic in thoracic surgery was written according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was whether extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) is superior to supportive care in the treatment of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). Overall, 110 papers were found using the reported search, of which 14 represented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. The authors, journal, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes and results are tabulated. We conclude that EPP confers no advantage to chemotherapy and palliative treatment in terms of survival and symptom improvement. Ten studies evaluated the role of EPP in the management of MPM. The median survival was 13 months and perioperative and 30-day mortality rates were 5.7% and 9.1%, respectively. There was a high morbidity rate of 37% including atrial fibrillation, empyema and supraventricular arrhythmias. Disease recurred in 73% of patients at a median time of 10 months. Median hospital stay was 13 days and intensive care unit stay was 1.5 days. At three months postsurgery, improvement in symptoms was achieved in 68% of patients. Significant advantages were observed in patients with epithelial MPM (19 vs. 8 months, P<0.01) compared to non-epithelial MPM and with N2 disease (19 vs. 10 months) compared to N1 or N0 disease, respectively. Two studies reported outcomes after chemotherapy in patients with MPM. The median survival was 13 months and symptoms improved in 50% of patients. Response rate of 21% was achieved and the median time to disease progression was 7.2 months. Postoperative haematological toxicity was common and included neutropenia (25%), anaemia (5%) and thrombocytopenia (7.4%). Two studies analysed palliative treatment in mesothelioma and reported a median survival of seven months and improvement in symptoms in 25% of patients at one-year post-treatment. The 30-day mortality rate was 7.8% and complications included prolonged air leak (9.8%) and empyema (4%). Median hospital stay was seven days. Overall, EPP shows no benefit in terms of survival or symptom improvement which is compounded by its high operative mortality and recurrence rate.

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