Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive tumor and the prognosis is still dismal despite the various proposed multimodal treatment plans. Currently, new palliative treatments, such as talc pleurodesis, are being explored besides traditional surgery. This review reports survival rates after talc pleurodesis in comparison to surgery in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. A systematic literature search yielded 49 articles eligible for this review. The mean survival in the talc pleurodesis group was 14 months compared to 17 and 24 months for the pleurectomy decortication (P/D) group and extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) group, respectively. Few studies reported on the 1-, 2- year overall survival for the talc pleurodesis group and the results were very heterogeneous. The pooled 1-year overall survival for the P/D and EPP groups were 55% [credibility limits (CL): 21–87%] and 67% (CL: 3–89%), the pooled 2-year overall survival were 32% (CL: 8–63%) and 36% (CL: 8–54%), respectively. The pooled 1- and 2-year survival for surgery independently from the type of surgery were 62% (CL: 38–84%) and 34% (CL: 16–54%). There was significant heterogeneity in all the analyses. This review shows that there is limited research on the survival rate after talc pleurodesis compared to surgery in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. A comparison study is necessary to accurately assess the best way to treat MPM patients, including assessment of the quality of life after treatment as an outcome measure.
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