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Historically pleural infection was thought to be associated with longer survival in thoracic malignancies. The aim of this population-based cohort study was to investigate this hypothesis in mesothelioma, using national data from a high incidence country.Methods
Case records for all patients with mesothelioma seen in English hospitals between 01/01/2005 and 31/12/2014 were extracted from Hospital Episode Statistics using International Classification of Diseases Tenth Edition (ICD-10) codes. Episodes of pleural infection were identified. Linked mortality data was obtained from the Office of National Statistics.
The primary outcome was all-cause mortality. The explanatory variable was pleural infection. Cox proportional hazards model was used to analyse survival, with pleural infection, chemotherapy and thoracic surgery handled as time-variable co-factors.Results
Of 22,215 patients with mesothelioma, 512 (2.3%) developed pleural infection at some point in their illness. Overall median survival was 7.0 months (IQR 2.3–16.4). Pleural infection was associated with shorter survival in the immediate post-infection period (up to 30 days – HR 1.81, 95% CI 1.45–2.22) and longer term (>30 days – HR 1.81, 95% CI 1.63–1.99). Other factors associated with increased mortality were age, male gender and being diagnosed as an inpatient. Receiving chemotherapy and being less economically deprived were associated with longer survival.Conclusion
Pleural infection occurred in 2.3% of people with mesothelioma and was associated with shorter survival. This refutes previous reports suggesting pleural infection may be associated with better outcomes in thoracic malignancy.
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