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New mesothelioma treatments helping to extend patient lifespans

June 13th, 2012

New treatments for mesothelioma cancer have yielded unusually long survival rates for patients who are diagnosed with the disease. According to research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, a combination of lung-sparing surgery and photodynamic therapy (PDT) helps patients live on average two to three years longer.

The study involved 38 patients who were in advanced stages of mesothelioma and underwent both surgery and the light-based alternative to chemotherapy known as PDT. The average survival rate was about 32 months, a drastic increase considering only 40% of mesothelioma patients live more than 12 months after receiving their diagnosis.

Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that can attack the lungs or abdominal cavity. The disease, which affects thousands of Americans every year, is most closely associated with asbestos exposure and can take decades to develop after initial contact with the material.

Asbestos was widely used in construction and other industries until the 1970s, when it was heavily reduced due to the risks of diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. Thousands of employees have filed mesothelioma lawsuits against their employers after being exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with the cancer.

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