Mesothelioma patients undergoing a surgery known as pleurectomy and decortication (PD) mostly reported an improved quality of life after the operation, according to a study by Loyola Medicine.

Pleural mesothelioma, which is caused by asbestos exposure as well as a genetic susceptibility to the cancer, develops in the thin layer of tissue around the lungs known as the pleura. With the growth of the tumor, the lungs get constricted, causing chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

The surgery, which removes the pleura, cannot cure mesothelioma; it can aid in controlling fluid buildup, enhance breathing and ease chest pain.

Lead author Wickii Vigneswaran, MD, professor in the department of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, and colleagues performed EORTC QLQ-C30 survey – a cancer quality-of-life survey – on 114 patients who underwent the surgery. The participants’ age ranged from 50-88 with an average age of 70 years.

At the start of the surgery, 31% of the patients’ performance status was ‘fully functional,’ with a status score of 0; performance status score for 65% was 1, which means they were able to do light work in the house or office; and 4% had performance status score of 2 and they were ambulatory and able take care of themselves, but not able to work.

All of them were studied at 1 month, 4 to 5 months, 7 to 8 months and 10 to 11 months, following the surgery.

The survey measured an individual’s overall functioning such as, emotional, physical, and cognitive, etc.; usual symptoms such as fatigue, pain, nausea, vomiting etc.; individual items such as, shortness of breath, constipation, diarrhea, insomnia, and financial difficulties; and overall health.

The team observed enhanced quality of life in the first month following surgery and continued at late follow-up in all individuals.

Surgery didn’t affect quality of life adversely at any time in those who, before surgery, had performance status score of 1 or 2, a tumor size bigger than 600 ml. or a kind of tumor cell known as non-epithelioid.

Dr. Vigneswaran explained that the overall satisfaction of pleurectomy and decortication validates the method in the majority of pleural mesothelioma patients.

The study was presented during the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.