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J Clin Oncol. 1993 Jun;11(6):1172-8.

Node status has prognostic significance in the multimodality therapy of diffuse, malignant mesothelioma.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115.



We studied a multimodality approach using extrapleural pneumonectomy, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.


From 1980 to 1992, 52 selected patients, underwent treatment. Median age was 53 years (range, 33 to 69). Initial patient evaluation was performed by a multimodality team. Pathologic diagnosis was reviewed and confirmed before therapy. Patients with no medical contraindication and potentially resectable mesothelioma on computed tomography (CT) (magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] when it became available) received extrapleural pneumonectomy, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and cisplatin (CAP) chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.


Perioperative morbidity and mortality rates were 17% and 5.8%, respectively. The overall median survival duration is 16 months (range, 1 month to 8 years). The 32 patients with epithelial histologic variant had 1-, 2-, and 3-year survival rates of 77%, 50%, and 42%, respectively. Patients with mixed and sarcomatous cell disease had 1- and 2-year survival rates of 45% and 7.5%; no patient lived longer than 25 months (P < .01). At resection, positive regional mediastinal lymph nodes were found in 13. Positive lymph nodes were associated with poorer survival than were negative nodes (P < .01). Patients with epithelial variant and negative mediastinal lymph nodes had a survival rate of 45% at 5 years.


Multimodality therapy including extrapleural pneumonectomy has acceptable morbidity and mortality for selected patients. Prolonged survival occurred in patients with epithelial histologic variant and negative mediastinal lymph nodes. These data provide a rationale for a revised staging system for malignant pleural mesothelioma; furthermore, they permit stratification of patients into groups likely to benefit from aggressive multimodality treatment.

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