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Surgical Treatment of Mesothelioma: Pleurectomy*

John R. Roberts, MD, FCCP
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*From Division of General Thoracic Surgery, Department of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, Vanderbilt Hospital, Nashville, TN.

Correspondence to: John R. Roberts, MD, FCCP, 2986 The Vanderbilt Clinic, Nashville, TN 37232; e-mail: bob.roberts@mcmail.vanderbilt.edu



Chest. 1999;116(suppl_3):446S-449S. doi:10.1378/chest.116.suppl_3.446S
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Malignant diffuse mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma, with a median survival ranging from 8.5 to 18 months after diagnosis. Good performance status, absence of chest pain, age < 50 years, and epithelial histology are all associated with improved survival. Several investigators have described staging systems for this tumor and have emphasized the importance of thoracoscopy in the diagnosis and staging of the disease. Pleurectomy is the most common surgery employed to manage patients with diffuse mesothelioma, and this procedure is associated with minimal postoperative morbidity and mortality. Because mesothelioma usually recurs locally after surgery, efforts at optimizing local control have included both intraoperative phototherapy and chemotherapy. However, neither of these techniques has demonstrated any significant benefit to date and thus should not be considered as standards of care. No studies have compared pleurectomy to extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) in randomized trials. However, nonrandomized series suggest a significant improvement in disease-free survival for those undergoing EPP versus pleurectomy. Other data suggest that EPP may improve local control but may predispose the patient to distant metastases. A randomized comparison of these techniques may be beneficial in identifying the most effective procedure for patients with malignant diffuse mesothelioma.


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