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Need some help for my friend


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She called last night to say that her elderly mother was just dx with cancer of the pleura (sp). Her brother researched and said this was mesothelioma. Yes? No?

They can use any and all suggestions and information. I gave her this site address, but will also give her any replies.

Thanks so much


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I read that there can be a localized fibrous tumor of the pleura but this is less common than mesothelioma.

Hopefully it is benign, but I think there has been progress with mesothelima. I think Alimta has done well and surgery is also being tried in clinical trials

Hopefully Oncdoc can answer your questions. It is good there is a Dr here now

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Hi Gail, what you are describing does sound like mesothelioma although I have seen plain old lung cancer do what you are describing. Mesothelioma is a specific kind of cancer arising from the pleura or lining of the chest cavity and in the vast majority of cases is associated with asbestos exposure.

It is very challenging to treat. Surgery generally is not very helpful unless you do a procedure called an extrapleural pneumonectomy which is the most god-awful surgery I have ever seen. The patient has to be in excellent health and you have to be VERY sure there is no cancer anywhere else because you would not want to put someone through that if it is not going to remove the whole cancer. I have usually sent patients to David Sugarbaker who is a thoracic surgeon in Boston who pioneered the procedure, very few surgeons have the expertise to do it. Dr. Maddeus here at the University of Minnesota has done enough of them that I did send my most recent patient to him.

Since your friends mom is described as elderly, I would think very carefully before pursuing resection. As John stated above, Alimta is the most effective drug to treat mesothelioma, in fact that is what it was first approved for. It is used in combination with cisplatin and can shrink the cancer.

If this is mesothelioma (as I said lung cancer can do exactly what you are describing so need some help from the pathologists) it is a good one to get a second opinion on because they are pretty uncommon, I see maybe 2 a year which is actually considered a lot for a medical oncologist.

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