Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that most commonly affects the tissue covering the lungs and chest wall. It develops decades after exposure to asbestos and has a life expectancy between 12 and 21 months. Thankfully, some patients have been able to outlive this average with treatment.

Mesothelioma surgery is a common treatment approach to improve life expectancy. To further understand its benefits, researchers looked at data from nearly 300 patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma (cancer of the lung lining).

The study published in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery found that patients who received surgery after chemotherapy nearly doubled their life expectancy.

Learn more about the study and if surgery might be a good treatment option for you or a loved one.

About the Retrospective Mesothelioma Surgery Study

Researchers looked at data from 296 patients treated between January 2011 and December 2021. Each patient had already received three cycles of chemotherapy and were eligible for tumor-removing surgery.

The cases were then divided into two groups:

  1. 272 patients who chose surgery
  2. 24 patients who were eligible for surgery but declined

The study team then looked at how long these patients lived after treatment and how long it took for their cancer to grow or spread.

The 272 patients who opted in chose one of these three surgeries for pleural mesothelioma:

  • Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D): A lung-sparing surgery that removes the lining of the lungs and any cancerous tumors
  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP): An extensive procedure that removes the cancerous lung, the lining of the lungs, and parts of the lining of the heart and diaphragm closest to the cancer
  • Exploratory thoracotomy: Involves a small cut between the ribs to reach the lungs and surrounding organs and assess the health of each

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s important to see a specialist for the best treatment. Find top specialists in your area now with our Free Doctor Match.

Significantly Longer Life Expectancy With Mesothelioma Surgery

Regardless of the type of procedure, patients who chose to undergo surgery after chemotherapy had a better life expectancy than those who declined this additional treatment.

When combined, chemotherapy and surgery for pleural mesothelioma helped patients live 72.46% longer, with an overall survival time of 40.7 months compared to 23.6 months for those who only received chemotherapy.

“Overall survival and progression-free survival were significantly better in surgery than in refusal of surgery. Surgery may improve the survival outcomes of patients with pleural mesothelioma.”

- Study Researchers

Similarly, researchers found that it took 56.59% longer for the cancer to spread in patients who underwent surgery, improving what doctors call “progression-free survival.”

This means that because most of the cancer was removed during surgery, patients were able to live 20.2 months without their cancer progressing — compared to 12.9 months for the group who didn’t receive surgery.

Although it may come with risks and recovery time, pleural mesothelioma surgery can help patients live significantly longer, allowing them to spend more time with family and loved ones.

Find Out If Mesothelioma Surgery Could Work for You

Treating mesothelioma can be challenging — but you shouldn’t give up hope. Many patients have gone on to become long-term mesothelioma survivors after surgery and other treatments.

The best way to confirm if you’re eligible for surgery is to find a trusted mesothelioma doctor. These doctors have the experience necessary to carefully perform an EPP or P/D while reducing the risk of any complications or side effects.

If you’re looking for a specialist, connect with a Mesothelioma Hope Patient Advocate now at (866) 608-8933 or get started with our Free Doctor Match.

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Laura WrightWritten by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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  1. Nakamura, A., Hashimoto, M., Kuroda, A., Matsumoto, S., Kondo, N., Kitajima, K., Minami, T., Kuribayashi, K., Kijima, T., & Hasegawa, S. (February 2024). Impact of Operation on Disease Progression and Survival of Patients With Pleural Mesothelioma. The Annals of Thoracic Surgery. Retrieved April 10, 2024, from

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