Treatment for mesothelioma depends on several factors such as where the cancer is located, the type, the current stage of the disease, the age of the effected patient, the overall health of the patient and their medical history. Each person that is diagnosed with mesothelioma may not always require the same method of treatment as there are different things to consider, such as the frequency, the aggressiveness, and the method used to treat mesothelioma.
There are many kind of treatments for mesothelioma, each intending to attack the cancer cells while attempting to address symptoms as best as possible. Often, patients prefer to pursue the most aggressive treatment possible at first when diagnosed with mesothelioma and if diagnosed early enough then this is often the best method.
Treatment using conventional therapies have not always been successful and patients often have a median survival time of 6 to 12 months after being diagnosed with the cancer. The clinical behavior of the malignancy is affected by several factors including the continuous mesothelial surface of the pleural cavity which favors local metastasis via exfoliated cells, invasion to underlying tissue and other organs within the pleural cavity, and the extremely long latency period between asbestos exposure and development of the disease.
Treatments commonly used are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. These may also be used in combination to combat the disease (You should consider all the factors involved, and consult a physician to decide the best appropriate treatment based on each individual case).
When considering surgery, the patient must remember to consider their overall health and ensure that their doctor has tested to make sure that they do not have a metastatic disease. Metastatic disease is a form of cancer that spreads to distant regions of the body.
In some cases the cancer may only be in one area of the pleura and not yet spread, thus surgery can be used to cure mesothelioma or prevent it from further effecting healthy tissue. Using surgery in this case can allow removal of part, or all, of the pleura and tissues closes to the cancer. However sometimes, the affected side which may involve the pleura, whole lung, and diaphragm need to be removed along with the tumor.
Surgery by it self may not cure the mesothelioma therefore it is important to fully discuss the option with a doctor before hand and since only the patient can consent the surgery, it is important to make sure you they have a complete understanding of everything that is involved. Sometime, in order to achieve the full effect of surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy may be involved in order to ensure that mesothelioma is, at best cured. Although the tumor is highly resistant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, these regimens are sometimes used to relieve symptoms arising from tumor metastases such as obstruction of a major blood vessel. Patients can usually return home six to twelve days after the surgery.
Chemotherapy treatment involves the assistance of various chemical substances such as anticancer drugs that attacks and destroys cancer cells. Often, chemotherapy will be administered through the use of many injections into the body. The drugs will be injected into the veins and directly into the effected area in hope to target the mesothelioma tumor more effectively. Medicine in the form of pills is also sometimes used when injections is not a viable option.
Chemotherapy is not always considered as a real cure but more so as a method of preventing the disease from causing further damage. It is often used in combination with the other forms of treatment to help battle against the cancer cells. The main goals of chemotherapy is to control the cancer by slowing down the growth, to relieve symptoms, and to destroy microscopic disease that may remain after surgery.
The downside to chemotherapy is the side effects. While chemotherapy seeks out cancer cells and destroys them, it also temporarily reduces the number of the normal cells. It is the damages done to the normal cells that are causing the side effect. Depending on the type, dosage, and how your body reacts to chemotherapy, the side effects may include the all or any of the following: nausea, vomiting, hair loss, weight loss, fatigue and diarrhea.
Radiation treatment or radiotherapy is simply the use of high-energy x-rays that destroy the cancer cells and its surrounding area while doing as little harm as possible to the normal cells.
When treating mesothelioma, radiotherapy may be aggressively used against the cancer cell in cooperation along with surgery or chemotherapy for an effective battle against mesothelioma. If the patient are not well enough for a surgery, then radiation therapy can be used alone as a sole treatment.
Radiotherapy is also used to control the symptoms. This form of treatment can reduce the size of the cancer and reduce pain, discomfort, and or breathlessness.