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The next step after receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma cancer is to decide on a treatment plan. The mesothelioma cancer treatment chosen will depend on the stage of the cancer, the area affected, and the overall health of the patient. Normally during early stages of the cancer development surgery is the chosen treatment. The intent of performing mesothelioma surgery on a patient is to remove most, if not all of the disease. To eliminate the remaining microscopic disease particles in the body, chemotherapy or radiation are used.
Since there are many forms of mesothelioma, different versions of surgery are available. With Pleural Mesothelioma, a patient could receive pleurectomy/decortication, which is most effective during stage I and sometimes in stage II. This surgery eliminates tumors on the lungs. A more radical surgical approach is extrapleural pneumonectomy. Specialists perform this surgery only after careful review of the patient’s history. Since previous surgery methods did not work, Doctors recommend additional therapies following the surgery to increase its effectiveness. Cytoreductive Surgery is an option if a patient is diagnosed with Peritoneal Mesothelioma. The purpose of this surgery is to eliminate the majority of the tumor in the peritoneal cavity. Following the surgery, the doctor will administer Intra-Peritoneal Hyperthermic Chemotherapy to the patient.
Chemotherapy for mesothelioma uses special anti-cancer medicines and chemicals to try to kill malignant cells. Often, chemotherapy is used as an additional therapy alongside radical surgery and/or in along with radiation therapy or immunotherapy, particularly when the cancer has spread beyond an operable area. Many drugs have been tried; so far, however, all have met with only limited success against malignant mesothelioma.
Not all mesothelioma patients are are helped with standard therapy, and some standard mesothelioma treatments may have more side effects than are desired. Clinical trials, therefore, are designed to find better ways to treat cancer patients and are based on the most up-to-date information. Clinical trials are ongoing in many parts of the country for many patients with malignant mesothelioma. These new approaches often combine two or more traditional mesothelioma treatments or consist of other promising innovations.
Radiation treatment is another option for treating mesothelioma. It involves the localized use of high-dose radiation (like x-rays) on malignant tumors. Usually, it is not a primary treatment but is used in conjunction with other therapies such as surgical resection and chemotherapy. It is generally used to reduce the size of the symptomatic tumor and help relieve symptoms like pain and shortness of breath. The appropriateness of radiation therapy depends on factors such as the volume of the tumor and how near it is to vital organs.
Intraoperative photodynamic therapy is a new type of mesothelioma treatment that uses special drugs and light to kill cancer cells during surgery. A drug that makes cancer cells more sensitive to light is injected into a vein several days before surgery. During surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible, a special light is used to shine on the pleura. This treatment is being studied for early stages of mesothelioma in the chest.
A recent study followed about 400 mesothelioma patients who underwent different types of surgery commonly employed against mesothelioma. The results indicate that no one type of surgery was more effective than another in extending the survival rate. Rather, other factors seemed to determine how long people survived. These factors included the stage and cell type of the tumor, the gender of the patient, and the type of treatment(s) used in concert with the surgery.
There are two main types of surgical treatment for pleural mesothelioma: extra-pleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy/decortication. EPP involves the removal of the pleura, diaphragm, pericardium, and the whole lung involved with the tumor. Pleurectomy/decortication involves the removal of the pleura without removing the entire lung.
Clinical trials can provide an alternative treatment path to patients rather than mesothelioma chemotherapy or surgery. Just because certain experimental drugs have not yet been officially approved and regularly prescribed does not mean that they are completely unsafe, either. In fact, all drugs used today are the result of successful prior trials. Participants are closely watched by a team of researchers and doctors. Dosages are altered and all side effects are recorded and monitored. Clinical trials are also playing the largest part in the search for a mesothelioma cure. With the help of current patients, each research study, whether it fails or not, provides new and valuable information. You must qualify to participate in a clinical trial; because they are controversial, they are often used with patients who have failed previous treatment attempts and are looking for a last resort. Contact your doctor or the nearest cancer center for more information about current trials and to see if you may qualify. Even if the experimental medications not do prove to be more effective than current treatment methods, they may extend the patient’s life or alleviate painful symptoms. For someone living with a disease without a cure, any extension of life or ease of pain is positive. Although it may be little consolation, by participating in a trial, you will be helping us all get closer to the cure.
Options for Mesothelioma Treatment
In cancer treatment, the focus is usually on killing the malignant cells and saving the healthy ones. Currently most patients use three basic options for mesothelioma treatment that are radiation, chemotherapy. Recommended treatment is determined by the following:
• The location and type of mesothelioma
• The particular size of the tumor or tumors
• Which stage of cancer the patient is in i.e. l,ll,lll
• The level at which the cancer has spread
• Patient’s age
• Physical health of patient
Before treatment starts there may be a number of doctors to visit which may include a pulmonologist, a radiologist, or oncologist (a cancer specialist). Types of mesothelioma treatment include:
• Surgery Treatment-two reasons surgery may be performed: To keep the patient more comfortable, and to cure the disease. Several types of surgeries
1. Pleurodesis-Prevents fluid returning by injecting talc into the lungs.
2. Thoracentesis-Removes fluid from the lungs by a thin needle.
3. Pleurectomy-Removing the pleura
In recent years advances in surgery for treatment of mesothelioma in those diagnosed with the early stages have been shown to extend survival rates. One such surgery is all extrapleural pnemonectomy a leading doctor in the field of mesothelioma performs this surgery which involves resection of the entire affected lung.
• Radiation Therapy Treatment-Used when a patient’s health is to delicate for chemotherapy or surgery. Radiation is known to have the fewest side effects. A method of radiation therapy:
1. External beam radiation-This treatment comes from a machine and aims towards the affected area and is the most preferred for mesothelioma treatment.
2. Brachytherapy-This treatment is rarely used and it involves puts radioactive material inside the abdomen and lung.
• Chemotherapy Treatment-In the form of chemotherapy drugs that are either injected into the patient systemically or ingested in pill form.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that occurs after exposure to asbestos either from inhaling its particles or from direct contact. Usually the cancer will begin twenty to forty years after the exposure to asbestos. There are two types of Mesothelioma; Pleural Mesothelioma and Peritoneal Mesothelioma.
Pleural Mesothelioma is the most common form and is found in the lungs and in the chest cavity. This creates symptoms of chest pain with a chronic cough. Peritoneal Mesothelioma occurs in the chest cavity and affects the area around the heart and abdominal area.
Although a cure for these types of cancers does not exist, many patients elect to have treatment to delay symptoms and improve quality of life. Mesothelioma treatment options include surgery, chemo and radiation. Some new treatments of gene therapy and immunotherapy are now being used with some success. Also many patients elect to participate in mesothelioma treatment options which include clinical trials to test ongoing treatment options. Mesothelioma information gathered in these clinical trials is imperative in finding the cure for this difficult disease.
At this time malignant mesothelioma is not a curable disease. However, increased medical technology can prolong the life in many mesothelioma cases. If you suffer from mesothelioma, your best defense against the progression of malignant mesothelioma cancer is early diagnosis; consult with your doctor if you know you have been exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos disease can affect people through lung disease, mesothelioma and asbestosis. To avoid asbestos disease, one should simply avoid inhaling asbestos particles. However, if working around them, the better chance one has of developing a form of asbestos disease.
Asbestos is not by any means cancerous. However, mesothelioma, a side effect from asbestos is. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the cells in the lining of the lungs and inside of the ribs. In fact, mesothelioma is the worst effect from asbestos. A frightening aspect of it is that it can be present but not active, meaning one can have it and simply not know it until major side effects occur.
Asbestos diseases are both benign and malignant. Benign diseases aren’t cancerous but can still be harmful. Malignant diseases are dangerous because they have cancer growths that can spread to various organs of the body. An asbestos disease commonly takes between twenty and forty years to develop. Minor symptoms may occur along the development but a doctor will be hesitant to say it is asbestos until it is clearly obvious.