The treatment of mesothelioma depends on many factors such as location of the cancer, the stage of the disease, patient’s age and overall health of the patient. Standard treatment options can include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation procedures, and/or a combination of these therapies depending on each patient’s circumstance.
There is no known cure for mesothelioma, and the treatment procedures mentioned above can only provide temporary relief from symptoms and in some cases may prolong survival. Chemotherapy and radiation procedures can limit the chances of the tumor(s) metastasizing or spreading to another part of the body. These treatments are not fool proof and will not cure mesothelioma.
Some of the treatments available include:
There are a variety of surgeries that are used to treat mesothelioma. The tumors associated with mesothelioma tend to be large and are difficult to remove entirely. There are two general categories of surgery used for mesothelioma:
- Palliative Procedures
This treats the symptoms, focusing on making the patient comfortable instead of treating the disease. Some options include chest tube trainage and pleuroperitoneal shunt.
- Curative Options
These are treatments that seek to remove the disease from the body and prevent it from recurring. Treatment includes pleurectomy/decortication, which is a surgical removal of the pleura, the lining of the lungs. Another option is extra-pleural pneumonectomy which is the removal of the pleura as well as the entire lung and diaphragm and pericardium. This is a radical treatment and should only be done by a medical center that specializes in this type of treatment.
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment plan designed to destroy the cancer cells and prevent them from spreading. Drugs are placed directly in the bloodstream. For mesothelioma, the goal of chemotherapy is not to cure the cancer, but to shrink the tumors and prevent the spread of the disease. Drugs that have proven useful include doxorubicin, gemcitabine, cisplatin, carboplatin, epirubicin, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, vinorelbine, paclitaxel, and methotrexate.
Intense x-rays are used to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells. Radiation is effective for relieving pain, but can be difficult to use without causing further damage to the lungs, heart, and liver.
- Photodynamic Therapy
Patients take drugs to make their bodies particularly sensitive to light. Fiber optic cables are then surgically implanted in the body and light energy is directed towards the tumor. This treatment is still considered experimental for mesothelioma treatment.
- Gene Therapy
Genes are inserted directly into tumors, making the cancer cells highly susceptible to certain drugs. The patient takes the drug and it directly impacts the cancer cells which have been genetically altered so that they will be killed by the drugs. This treatment is in clinical trials.
The body's own immune system is 'taught' to fight the cancer cells using biological response monitors. Clinical studies are currently underway for this therapy.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or another asbestos-related disease, contact us today for a free case evaluation.