Imaging before and after multimodal treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma

La Radiologia Medica. 2006 Apr;111(3):355-64. Epub 2006 Apr 11. [Link]

Fiore D, Baggio V, Sotti G, Muzzio PC.

Dipartimento di Scienze Medico Diagnostiche e Terapie Speciali, Universita degli Studi di Padova, Via Giustiniani 2, I-35128, Padova, Italy.


Purpose: Computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MR) and positron emission tomography (PET) have a very important role in the diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) in the choice of chemoradiotherapy alone or in combination with surgery and in evaluating possible recurrence. It is also essential for assessing the possible benefits of radical surgery (pleuropneumonectomy) in terms of patient survival.

Materials and Methods: We considered 28 patients suffering from MPM whose mean survival after diagnosis was 15-18 months. Sixteen of these patients had radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy alone, according to standard protocols, while 12 also underwent surgery. The CT features of MPM were thoroughly examined, as was the role of PET and CT-PET in achieving accurate disease staging and consequent selection of candidates for surgery.

Results: Nine of the 12 patients who underwent pleuropneumonectomy had no significant survival advantage over the mean survival in the 16 who were not operated whereas the other three lived 1-3 years longer. Two patients underwent surgery after an optimal response to chemoradiotherapy, but both survived less than a year due to particularly aggressive recurrences.

Conclusions: CT, PET and CT-PET are indicated for diagnosis and, above all, for staging of MPM, in the selection of patients who might benefit from surgery after neoadjuvant therapy and also in identifying small recurrences and/or remote metastases. Being highly specific, PET is essential in the follow-up of patients undergoing chemoradiotherapy alone and/or surgery. Each imaging modality has its advantages and limitations, but their combined use is crucial in determining the most appropriate treatment options for patients with MPM.