Pleural mesothelioma: Little evidence, still time to do trials
Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted
David Sugarbaker is the world's leading proponent of extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), an operation in which all the pleura is removed with the lung, pericardium, and diaphragm. He has recently reported the complications of this radical surgery in a series of 496 operations (J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2004; 128: 138-46). Although EPP as part of trimodality therapy (preoperative chemotherapy and postoperative radiation) is thought to be the best that can be offered and is regarded as the standard of care for selected patients given the morbidity associated with it, evidence for benefit is needed to justify its wider use. WHERE NEXT? With the increase in the number of cases there is increasing awareness of the disease, leading to earlier diagnosis, and an expectation that something must be done. Survival is short and the treatments on offer are onerous. The only responsible approach from a scientific, compassionate, or economic view (and why not combine all three?) is to find evidence of effectiveness to avoid futile and distressing treatment when possible.