What Are My Treatment Options If I Have Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a very rare and specific form of cancer that attacks the mesothelium, a tissue that lines the organs of the body. There are several common types that can be caused by asbestos exposure- pleural, which affects the lungs; peritoneal, which affects the abdomen; and pericardial, which affects the heart. As many as 75- percent of all mesothelioma cases are pleural in nature. Sadly, there is no treatment to reverse the effects of asbestos once the fibers have caused scarring of the lungs and asbestosis. While the disease can be slowed down in terms of progression, and symptoms can be treated, there is no cure.
There are several treatment options for patients with mesothelioma, from surgery to chemotherapy. These treatment options are not typically considered a cure for mesothelioma patients, although patients have reached remission in certain cases. These cases are typically situations where the disease was caught in the earliest stages and treated aggressively by a specialist.
Surgical options are available for those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Surgery options are commonly used for both curative and pain-relief purposes and be applied to all types of mesothelioma. Recovery from surgery can be extensive and there is no guarantee that surgery will be successful or restore quality of life.
Chemotherapy has been show to be an effective and viable form of treatment for many cases of mesothelioma. It is a viable option for patients and is most commonly used for those any stages of malignant mesothelioma. The more advanced the cancer the more intense the chemotherapy is and thus the more sever side effects can be.
Radiation therapy can be used before and after surgery to help shrink tumors and kill remaining cancer cells in a specific area of the body. This is good for targeting smaller areas and has benefits over chemotherapy as there is less risk of harming healthy tissue near the treatment area. This is why it is used whenever it is a viable option.
In some advanced cases it may be necessary to use more than one treatment option to get the best results with treatment. Aggressive surgical treatments combined with chemotherapy and radiation have increased the life expectancy of many patients. This is usually used in advanced cases or in instances where other health concerns are present.
Clinical trials offer patients access to emerging treatments such as immunotherapy treatments, gene therapy and photodynamic therapy. They are commonly used in individuals who cannot tolerate more traditional methods of treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy. The hope is new trials will uncover more treatment options in time.