As the understanding of mesothelioma cancer progresses, so does the knowledge on which treatments are most beneficial for patients. In what may come as a surprise move to many, however, the British Thoracic Society removed surgery as a recommendation for patients in its Mesothelioma Management Guidelines for 2018.

Why Is Surgery No Longer Recommended by the British Thoracic Society?

The recently published decision to no longer recommend aggressive surgery for mesothelioma patient care was made after an analysis on the potential harms such surgeries may cause. Specifically, many patients have poor outcomes after undergoing the following mesothelioma surgeries:

  • Extended pleurectomy and decortication
  • Partial pleurectomy
  • Extra pleural pneumonectomy

It is worth noting that each of these surgeries are regularly offered to patients in the United States, making the British Thoracic Society’s recommendation a significant departure from established medical norms here in America.

In making this recommendation, it is clear that the British Thoracic Society viewed the potential harms of surgery more negatively than the potential benefits of surgery. One of the reasons for this is related to a recently published trial that reviewed hundreds of mesothelioma clinical trials and other studies over the past few decades.

Study Published in the Clinical Respiratory Journal Helped Inform the Latest UK Recommendation

The lead author of a study recently published in the Clinical Respiratory Journal indicated that, based on analysis of hundreds of clinical trials conducted over the years, aggressive surgery’s benefits tend to not override the harmful effects. The lead author, Dr. Anna Libby, wrote that she did not believe current evidence could support the notion of surgical intervention. Dr. Libby did, however, carve out a potential exception for a less-aggressive form of extended pleurectomy and decortication surgery (EPD).

Still, the guidelines took this new clinical study to heart, now recommending against offering any form of extra pleural pneumonectomy surgery to mesothelioma patients. Further, the British Thoracic Society guidelines also take a stance against EPD surgery, save for the exception of EPD that may be offered as part of a clinical trial. Further, the guidelines also recommend using radiation therapy only for palliative care, quality of life improvements and pain relief, rather than for curative purposes like in the United States.

Instead of surgery, it now seems that the UK is choosing to look toward more novel approaches, including immunotherapy drugs and genetic therapy methods.

For the time being, however, these findings are at odds with the consensus reached by many United States physicians and medical researchers. It remains to be seen whether these findings will influence the recommendations made by leading bodies and physicians in America, but we will continue monitoring these important updates for the treatment of mesothelioma.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it may have been caused by a wrongful exposure to asbestos that entitles you to legal compensation. Contact us online today for a free case evaluation with a mesothelioma lawyer at The Ledger Law Firm today.

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