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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1991 Jul;102(1):10-4; discussion 14-5.

Extrapleural pneumonectomy, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy in the treatment of diffuse malignant pleural mesothelioma.

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  • 1Division of Thoracic Surgery, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115.


Malignant pleural mesothelioma has been considered a uniformly fatal disease associated with a median survival of 4 to 18 months. Extrapleural pneumonectomy alone has proved disappointing in the treatment of this disease, as have chemotherapy and radiotherapy. From 1980 to 1990, 31 patients with pleural mesothelioma underwent multimodality therapy that included extrapleural pneumonectomy with resection of the pericardium and diaphragm. The age of the patients was 53.4 +/- 8.6 years; 26 were male. All patients had the pathologic diagnosis reviewed before treatment. At thoracotomy six patients had residual (unresectable) gross disease, and in 23 there was histologic evidence of disease at the resection margin. The perioperative morbidity and mortality rates were 19% and 6%, respectively. The mean length of hospital stay for the 29 patients who survived the operation was 10.9 +/- 3.5 days. Postoperatively 26 patients received cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and cis-platinum chemotherapy with or without radiotherapy. The survival rates were 70% at 1 year and 48% at 2 years. Trends toward improved survival in the patients with complete resections approached but did not reach statistical significance. These data suggest that this multimodality protocol can be administered with acceptable morbidity and mortality. Prospective trials are justified to further clarify the role of this approach.

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