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Are The Results Of Pneumectomy ‘Acceptable?’

One of the treatment options for patients with Mesothelioma is an aggressive surgery to remove the infected lung. This procedure is called a pneumonectomy. However, many people considering a pneumonectomy are truly concerned about their quality of life following the surgery. According to a study done in Italy that tracked pneumonectomy patients between January of 2003 and March of 2010 concluded that an “acceptable” quality of life is possible after this surgery.

The study tracked 71 patients who had undergone pneumonectomy due to Mesothelioma or lung cancer. There were 71 patients total who participated in this research. Of the total, 31 had the left lung removed and 26 the right. The other 11 patients had lung removal along with more in depth surgery that removed other parts like areas of the trachea, lung lining, and the diaphragm. Although the recovery process following this surgery is long and extremely intense, most patients involved in the study had an ‘acceptable’ quality of life one-year after the surgery.

In fact, one-year after having the pneumonectomy, 93% of these patients were still alive. However, all of them began to develop heart issues including tricuspid valve insufficiency, which refers to the valve not closing properly. This condition allows some of the blood to pass from the right ventricle into the right atrium as the heart beats. This ends up decreasing the pumping efficiency of the heart. The study participants also suffered from thickening of the heart’s ventricular walls. Three patients ended up dying from surgery-related complications.

Five years following the surgery, 20% of the study participants were still alive. However, a questionnaire regarding quality of life that was filled out at the one-year and five-year marks indicated that quality of life had decreased. According to researchers, the scores were still considered ‘acceptable.’ In a results summary published in an Italian medical journal, the research team concluded that the mortality following surgery and 5 years post surgery were satisfactory. The team did not consider the heart problems severe enough to affect quality of life in a dramatic way. The team concluded that ‘acceptable’ quality of life is possible following lung removal surgery to treat Mesothelioma and lung cancer.

The debate continues between Mesothelioma experts as to the risks verses benefits of subjecting patients to pneumonectomy. On average, this intensive and extreme surgical procedure does not increase life expectancy very much, and many consider quality of life extremely diminished following the surgery. Thus, the benefits of pneumonectomy remain questionable, and opting for this procedure is definitely a personal decision that needs to be made by the patient. Many doctors recommend the pleurectomy procedure versus the pneumectomy, as it is much less radical and the risks are much lower.