Mesothelioma Tissue Bank Identifies Survival Factors

Research Lab

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have used the National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank to identify six factors that lead to improved survival for patients with this rare and aggressive cancer.

There were no major surprises, but mostly a confirmation of individually and previously reported issues often discussed in the mesothelioma community.

“There has not been improvement in the overall survival for patients … over many years with current available treatment options,” the researchers wrote. “This study was on the exploration of risk factors affecting mortality.”

The Lancet Respiratory Medicine published the findings early in 2019.

Factors Associated with Longer Survival

  • Age under 45 years when diagnosed
  • Female gender
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma subtype
  • Epithelioid histology subtype
  • Treatment including surgery and chemotherapy
  • Stage 1 at time of diagnosis

“The identification of these factors could help patients at risk for therapy failure who may benefit from novel interventions, or avoiding treatments that are not effective, or with high mortality risk,” the researchers concluded.

Median Survival Time Varies Dramatically

Based on an analysis of 888 cases, the median overall survival of the cohort was 15 months. It was 59 months for those diagnosed under the age of 45 and only 10 months for those 75 years or older.

Females had a 22-month median overall survival. Those who reported no known exposure to asbestos, regardless of sex, had a 20-month overall survival.

The site of the disease also changed survival dramatically. The average survival time of patients with peritoneal mesothelioma was 30 months, which was more than double that of pleural mesothelioma patients.

Patients with the epithelioid cell type of mesothelioma had a distinct advantage with an 18-month survival median, compared to just 10 months for the biphasic cell type and seven months for the sarcomatoid cell type.

Median overall survival rose to 23 months for those receiving treatment that included both surgery and chemotherapy.

Finally, those diagnosed with stage 1 disease had a 20-month median survival period, compared to just 12 months for those in stage 3 or 4.

Collaboration Fosters Mesothelioma Research

The National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank database is housed at the University of Pittsburgh. Its other contributors include the University of Maryland, the University of Pennsylvania, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and New York University.

The study also included data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which reported 30,443 cases of mesothelioma worldwide in 2018.

The National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank was formed in 2006 and is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. As a biospecimen registry, it is designed to spark scientific research on the disease.

In 2016, the virtual bank was awarded a $5.5 million grant that will fund it through 2021.

Dr. Waqas Amin, lead author of this latest study, and Dr. Michael Becich, director of the Biomedical Informatics Department, were unavailable to provide additional insight into the study findings.

Senior Content Writer

Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news. His specialty is interviewing top mesothelioma specialists and researchers, reporting the latest news at mesothelioma cancer centers and talking with survivors and caregivers.

1 Cited Article Sources

  1. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. (2019, January 16). Pleural mesothelioma: tackling a deadly cancer. 30004-9/fulltext Retrieved from: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(19)

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