Mesothelioma was once a rare form of cancer but has become more commonplace today. Some instances of mesothelioma may result from exposure to asbestos fibers that becoming lodged in the thin membrane that lines and encases the lungs. There are various forms of treatment for mesothelioma, and the use of certain types of surgery along with chemotherapy and radiation can treat the symptoms with varying degrees of success. Pleurectomy-Decortication (PD) is one such surgery, usually done on patients in the earliest stages of mesothelioma, when tissue infiltration is still relatively contained within a smaller surface area.
Pleurectomy-Decortication (PD) is a class of mesothelioma surgery in which the surgeon removes a tumor and/or the lining of the lungs. PD is not a cure, but it may help improve the patient’s quality of life and ease pain resulting from the cancer. The medical community does generally consider PD a radical surgery due to the extensive amount of tissue resection and the highly invasive techniques necessary to complete the operation. However, the surgery may successfully extend survival time in mesothelioma patients.
In PD, the surgeon makes an incision in the chest to reach the pleural cavity, providing access to the lungs and then performs the decortications of the lung and full resection of the visceral pleura. This involves removal of the surface layer of the visceral pleura and some other tissue to try to eradicate all malignant tissue. Following the decortication, the surgeon will likely do whatever reconstructive processes are necessary to ensure proper lung function. During the procedure the doctor also may remove adjacent lymph nodes to be sent to a pathologist for analysis, after which the doctors will decide what follow-up treatments might be helpful.
Once the surgery is performed, the patient will likely need to spend time in the intensive care unit before starting rehabilitation. It is important for the patient to realize this is major surgery with significant post-operative healing, so it will take time to recover.
Pleurectomy-Decortication surgery and other mesothelioma treatments can sometimes be uncomfortable and quite extensive. Yet, it may help patients to remember that, with these surgical options and other selected treatments, medical professionals seek to do everything possible to make a positive impact on the patient’s overall health and quality of life.