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Treatment Options

Although mesothelioma is an extremely serious and aggressive form of cancer, there are some treatment options available. Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma, but if caught in the early stages, there are a number of treatment options to kill cancerous cells and prevent tumors from spreading to prolong life and improve the overall quality of life for the patient.

Pleural MesotheliomaThere are a number of factors that determine what type of treatment a patient receives. This includes the stage of mesothelioma and how early doctors catch it, the form of mesothelioma, and the patient’s medical history. There are currently both standard treatment options as well as experimental treatment options that are still in clinical trial.

Mesothelioma can form in a number of areas in the human body. The most common is known as pleural mesothelioma and forms in the pleura of the lungs. This is found in an estimated three-fourths of all cases. Mesothelioma can also form in the abdomen – known as peritoneal mesothelioma – and also in the heart as pericardial mesothelioma.

There are different treatment options available for each form of mesothelioma. This includes radiation, chemotherapy, and also surgery.

Surgery

Surgery is the most common treatment for mesothelioma and is usually reserved for patients whose cancer was caught in the early stages and hasn’t spread past the lymph nodes. This treatment is used to remove the cancerous tumors to prevent them from spreading any further throughout the body. There are a number of forms of surgery including the following:

  • Wide local excision – This form of surgery removes the tumors or cancer and some healthy tissue surrounding the cancer.
  • Pleurectomy and decortication – Removes a portion of the lining of the lungs, the lining of the chest, and even a portion of the outside surface of the lungs
  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy – Surgery to remove one lung, part of the lining of the chest, the diaphragm, and the lignin of the sac surrounding the heart

Chemotherapy and Radiation

Surgery can be a very effective way to treat mesothelioma; however, most mesothelioma patients also need additional treatment in the form of radiation or chemotherapy to kill the remaining cancer cells and prolong the patient’s life as much as possible.

Radiation therapy is used to treat a number of different types of cancer as well as mesothelioma. This therapy uses x-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells and prevent new ones from growing. This can include both external and internal radiation. External radiation comes from a machine outside the body and is sent directly toward the targeted area. On the other hand, internal radiation is administered using needles, seeds, or catheters that are placed into the body close to the affected area.

Chemotherapy is another popular cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells and stop them from multiplying.  The drugs can be administered either by mouth in the form of a pill or can be injected straight into the bloodstream. The type of chemotherapy give depends greatly on the stage of mesothelioma.