Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine 2017 April [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Arnold DT, Clive AO


Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive malignancy with a very poor prognosis. The majority of patients require pleural procedures for diagnostic or fluid management purposes. Damage to the pleura during these procedures can lead to procedure tract metastases (PTMs), with increasing risk from larger interventions. Prophylactic radiotherapy to these sites is a controversial topic with conflicting results from trial data. In this review, we summarize the recent evidence.
Four RCTs have been published on this topic, with another in follow-up. The earliest, from a cohort of 40 patients, strongly advocated the use of prophylactic radiotherapy. More recent trials, most notably the Surgical and large bore procedures in Malignant pleural mesothelioma And Radiotherapy Trial (SMART) (which randomized over 200 patients) did not demonstrate any benefit, especially when patient report symptoms and cost-effectiveness are considered. Certain subgroups demand further investigation, such as those not receiving systematic chemotherapy or with surgical intervention sites. The soon to be published Prophylactic Irradiation of Tracts (PIT) trial may help to further clarify best practice.
Recent studies have shown that prophylactic radiotherapy should not be routinely used to prevent PTMs in mesothelioma. Instead patients should undergo careful clinical follow-up to ensure PTMs are identified and treated promptly to minimize symptoms.