On January 21st, The Lancet published a study sharing the results of the SMART (Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy) protocol which can improve the life expectancy of pleural mesothelioma patients by up to five-and-a-half years.
Between 2008 and 2019, 96 patients were tested with the SMART protocol. The SMART protocol involves exposing the patient to Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) before their extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery. Generally speaking, patients usually go through IMRT after their extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery. The IMRT process itself involves moving around the patient’s body and precisely targeting the cancer site from various angles with X-rays of varying intensity — which in the case of pleural mesothelioma can be particularly challenging, as pleural mesothelioma is located near the heart and lungs.
A specific group of 19 patients within the study had the epithelial cell type and no lymph node involvement for their pleural mesothelioma. It was this cohort that showed median survival rates of more than five years after going through the SMART protocol. For comparison, unfortunately, most patients die within a year of being diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.
This study is the first time a clinical surgery trial for pleural mesothelioma has exceeded five years of survival.
Not all patients with pleural mesothelioma will qualify for an extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery. If you qualify, check with your doctor to see if the SMART protocol is the right option for you.