There are too many patients with mesothelioma who are not getting the treatment they need per the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines, according to a recent clinical study done at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The study found that survival time is being lost because of the lack of proper cancer treatment.

The Annals of Thoracic Surgery released the study that reviewed disparities in compliance with US treatment guidelines and their effects on overall survival.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, as well as the American Society of Clinical Oncology, is in favor of multimodal therapy, which includes surgery, chemotherapy and possibly radiation treatments, for many mesothelioma patients who have the epithelial cell subtype of the cancer and are strong enough to withstand surgery.

Clinical research was done by several thoracic surgeons and medical oncologists at the above medical center, which started a specialty treatment program last year for patients with pleural mesothelioma.

According to Harmik Souklasian, MD, director of thoracic oncology, the level of undertreatment that was observed in the clinical study surprised him. He noted that he had hoped to see patients getting the cancer treatment they needed at a greater percentage than they are currently.

Treatment Recommendations Extend Survival Times

The study reviewed 3419 patients from the National Cancer Database user file. All of the patients studied were in stages I, II or III and included epithelial, sarcomatoid and biphasic subtypes of the cancer. Adhering to the recommended therapy, which differed by stage and subtype, was related to a higher improvement in survival rates.

Souklasian noted that patients should not just give up because they have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Some patients who receive full treatment do better than others. There are some patients who have a high quality of life and excellent outcomes. But they do need to be treated in a facility that is highly skilled in treating mesothelioma.

Median survival times for the patients with the epithelial subtype were as follows:

  • No cancer treatment: 10 months
  • Chemotherapy only: 15 months
  • Surgery and chemotherapy: 21 months
  • Trimodality therapy: 21 months

Too Many Patients Not Receive Sufficient Cancer Treatment

As a whole, 31% of patients with mesothelioma did not have any treatment at all. Of patients who have the epithelial subtype, which is the most treatable type of the cancer, just 27% had surgery. Almost 30% of the patients were thought to be in the group with low compliance, which was defined as no therapy and no surveillance being conducted.

The most common type of treatment for people with the epithelial subtype of mesothelioma was just chemotherapy – 39%. Just 6.5% of patients got trimodality treatment.

Both the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and American Society of Clinical Oncology are recommending chemotherapy and observation for nonsurgical candidates, and just supportive care for people with low performance status. Surgery is not a recommendation for patients who have sarcomatoid and biphasic histology.

Some type of cancer treatment was had by 71% of people with epithelial histology, 42% with sarcomatoid and 58% with biphasic.

Large Cancer Centers Have Better Treatment Outcomes

Additional findings of the clinical study include:

  • Age was the most important clinical factor for lack of compliance with 40% of people in their 80s not getting treatment at all.
  • Women patients were 20% less likely to get treatment than women, even though they have higher rates of survival.
  • Patients with Medicare and private insurance had better chances of getting the treatment they needed, compared to patients with no insurance.
  • Patients who had to travel more than 100 miles to the cancer treatment facility were more likely to get the care they needed.
  • High volume cancer treatment centers and academic centers were the most likely to offer multidisciplinary care, the most accurate staging and a better level of clinical trial recruitment.

Did You Lose a Loved One to Mesothelioma?

If you lost a loved one to asbestos cancer and it is determined that a specific company was responsible for exposing your loved one to asbestos, you could be eligible for compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. Some of the benefits you could receive could be compensation for medical costs, funeral costs, loss of companionship and for the pain and suffering your loved one endured.

A wrongful death lawsuit is typically filed by a close family member of the person who died from mesothelioma. In some states, other relatives or people who were financially dependent on the deceased also can file. Your asbestos cancer attorney can tell you if you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit or if someone else must file.

It is most common for spouses, children and life partners to file wrongful death lawsuits.

Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Claim Process

For a wrongful death lawsuit to result in compensation, the following steps need to be followed:

  • Legal research: Your mesothelioma attorney will conduct extensive legal research to determine the company or companies that exposed your loved one to asbestos. She also will talk to company employees and executives to determine when, where and how the exposure could have happened. It is critical that this research precisely pinpoint where asbestos exposure happened.
  • Filing: The suit could be filed in the state where asbestos exposure occurred, or possibly where the company’s corporate headquarters is located.
  • Discovery: Your lawyer will look at the work and medical history of your loved one who died. This will assist in building a strong case. Strong proof must be shown that the negligence of the company caused your loved one’s asbestos exposure.
  • Go to trial or settle: In many of these cases, the defendant may choose to settle early rather than go through a long, expensive trial. It is often up to the family to decide if they are willing to settle for possibly less money now, or risk a trial, where they could get more, or absolutely nothing.

Do you have any questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit? Talk to a skilled mesothelioma attorney today.


  • Mesothelioma Treatment Guidelines. (2019). Retrieved from