Mesothelioma Treatment- Everything You Need to Know

Mesothelioma cancer treatment options

Gone are the days when patients only had a few years to live and experienced a significant amount of suffering after being diagnosed with Mesothelioma. With advanced medical knowledge and state-of-the-art equipment, mesothelioma treatment is getting much better every year. As a result, patients are experiencing much less suffering and living much longer.

Every day, researchers are testing and improving new treatments, giving affected individuals greater hope to improve their prognosis. There are different treatment options available for patients with all stages of Mesothelioma. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with the disease, be sure to seek medical assistance and the doctor will find the right option for you.

“What treatment you undergo for mesothelioma depends on your health and certain aspects of your cancer, such as its stage and location.”

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that usually develops along the linings/tissues covering the lungs where it’s commonly referred to as pleural mesothelioma. It also affects the abdomen where it’s referred to as peritoneal mesothelioma. Being malignant means that it can be metastasized or spread to other parts of the body.

Exposure to Asbestos increases the risk of developing mesothelioma. Signs and symptoms of the disease include pain under the rib cage, trouble breathing, shortness of breath, lumps in abdomen, pain or swelling in the abdomen, unintended weight loss, constipation, blood clots, and frequent fatigue.

#Read: What To Do After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis?

Mesothelioma Treatment

As mentioned earlier, there are different treatment options for patients suffering from mesothelioma. They range from chemotherapy to surgery and although they are not considered a cure for the disease, some patients have gone into remission in certain cases. Such cases typically involve where the cancer was caught at an earlier stage and treated.

Let’s discuss the different types of Mesothelioma treatments.

1). Surgery

Surgery is considered as an ideal treatment option for the condition in patients whose mesothelioma is in the early stages or rather hasn’t spread too far. During surgery, all or most of the tumor is removed where the surgeon may remove the mesothelial lining, a small part or the entire lung or other affected organ, or one or more lymph nodes. It’s usually considered as the best way to remove significantly larger portions of the affected tissue.

“For mesotheliomas that can be treated with surgery, chemo may be given before surgery to try to shrink the cancer and lower the risk of spread. This is called neoadjuvant therapy.”

2). Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is another effective treatment option for mesothelioma. This type of treatment therapy involves the use of targeted radiation where the tumors and the remaining cancer cells are killed in the affected area. The doctor may use radiation therapy all by itself, combine it with surgery and/or surgery, or as a palliative treatment.

Common radiation therapies used in treating mesothelioma include Three-Dimensional Radiation Treatment (3D-CRT) and Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT). The good thing about radiation therapy is that it works for all mesothelioma types and stages. It’s also noninvasive compared to other types of treatments. Also, it minimizes damage to healthy cells as doctors only target the tumors.

3). Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is another effective treatment option for patients with mesothelioma in all 4 stages. Chemotherapy involves the use of powerful drugs to attack and kill the mesothelioma-causing cells. These drugs specifically designed to attack and kill fast-growing cells, including malignant cells. The treatment’s effectiveness usually depends on where the tumor is situated and the actual cancer stage.

When used in conjunction with other types of drugs and surgery, chemotherapy drugs prove to work much more effectively.

Many chemo drugs can be applied to treat mesothelioma, including:

  • Gemcitabine (Gemzar®)
  • Cisplatin
  • Carboplatin
  • Doxorubicin (Adriamycin®)
  • Methotrexate
  • Mitomycin
  • Pemetrexed (Alimta®)
  • Vinorelbine
4). Multimodal Treatment

Multimodal treatment usually involves the combination of two or more treatments, usually surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. By using a combination of treatments, the doctor is able to attack and kill the cancer cells much more effectively and successfully.

For example, the doctor may use surgery to remove malignant tumors in affected parts and radiotherapy to kill the remaining cells. Statistics indicate that approximately 22% of patients had their lifespan extended for at least 5 years after undergoing multimodal treatment.

5). Immunotherapy Treatment

Immunotherapy usually involves administering special kind of drugs that are designed to activate the immune system so as to target and kill the cancerous cells in mesothelioma. It’s one of the most common and effective types of mesothelioma treatments.

“Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is a type of cancer treatment designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses substances either made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function.”

6). Palliative Treatments

Palliative treatments fall in the complementary treatments category. These types of treatments are used to relieve pain caused by the 4 stages of mesothelioma. Some of the common palliative treatments available for affected patients include;

  • Partial Pleurectomy
  • Thoracentesis
  • Paracentesis
  • Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic (VAT) Talc Pleurodesis

Other commonly used complementary treatments include Physical Therapy and Aromatherapy.

#Read: Can You Survive Mesothelioma?

7). Clinical Trials

Although most of the mentioned treatments are considered as the most promising experimental treatments, over the years, ongoing clinical trials have been looking for new ways to fight mesothelioma. These clinical trials may offer great opportunities for patients who have not yet found an effective treatment for this condition.

Hopefully, ongoing clinical trials will lead to a cure in years to come. Otherwise, the available treatments are also getting much better and more effective every day. So, if you’ve been recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, be sure to consult your physician who will recommend the perfect treatment for you.

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