The course of mesothelioma treatment depends on many factors, such as the location of the cancer, stage and extent of the disease, and the general health and well being of the patient.
Some standard mesothelioma treatment options include:
One of the most common treatments of malignant Mesothelioma. Depending on the stage of the mesothelioma, surgery may be used to remove the cancer and some of the surrounding tissue. Often, however, an operation is not appropriate and the patient may have only minimally invasive procedures to relieve symptoms. A thoracentesis, where fluid in the chest is removed by placing a needle into the chest cavity, may be done to make a patient more comfortable. Sometimes talc or an antibiotic may be injected into the chest cavity to try to prevent the fluid from returning. These techniques are successful in controlling the mesothelioma fluid, at least temporarily, in as many as 90% of patients. Because mesothelioma pleural fluid can compress the lung and cause shortness of breath, these surgical procedures can help patients breathe more easily, however, they do not cure the mesothelioma cancer. In the case of peritoneal mesothelioma, a needle may be inserted into the abdomen to drain the fluid. Similarly, a needle inserted into the pericardium (sac around the heart) can drain pericardial fluid and help relieve circulatory problems. However, draining this fluid may result in complications. Sometimes the cancer cells spread along the needle path, and a tumor nodule may form under the skin of that area.
Surgery for mesothelioma may be performed for one of two reasons: for palliation (to relieve pain and discomfort caused by the tumor), or to cure. Palliative surgery is typically done in cases where the tumor has already spread beyond the mesothelioma and is difficult to completely remove or in cases where the patient is too ill to tolerate a more extensive operation. Curative surgery is offered when the patient is in otherwise good health and the tumor is thought to be localized and can be completely removed. Unfortunately, microscopic spread of cancer cells into the chest wall and diaphragm are common even when such spread cannot be detected by routine tests. Therefore, given the extent of these operations and their very limited success, the exact role of surgery in treating mesothelioma is often debated.
Mesothelioma Treatments: Radiation
Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill mesothelioma cancer cells. External beam radiation therapy uses radiation delivered from outside the body that is focused on the cancer. This type of radiation therapy is often used to treat mesothelioma. These treatments are much like getting a diagnostic x-ray except for a longer time. Brachytherapy involves radioactive material being placed directly into the chest or the abdomen at the site of the mesothelioma. Radiation therapy is sometimes used as the main treatment of mesothelioma in some patients, especially those whose general health is too poor to undergo surgery. Adjuvant radiation therapy can be used in addition to surgery to kill small deposits of cancer that cannot be seen and removed during surgery. Palliative radiation therapy can also be used to ease symptoms of mesothelioma such as shortness of breath, pain, bleeding, and difficulty swallowing.
Side effects of radiation therapy may include fatigue and mild skin changes that resemble a sunburn. Often these side effects are temporary. Radiation may also make the side effects of chemotherapy worse. Chest radiation therapy may cause lung damage and lead to difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. Abdominal radiation therapy may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If you are having any of these side effects of radiation therapy, talk with your doctor since there are ways to help control these symptoms.
Mesothelioma Treatments: Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs for treating cancer. The drugs can be swallowed in pill form or they can be injected by a needle into a vein or muscle. Chemotherapy is systemic therapy. This means that the drug enters the bloodstream and circulates throughout the body (through the whole system) to reach and destroy the cancer cells.
In treating mesothelioma, these drugs may also be given intrapleurally (directly into the chest cavity), or intraperitoneally (into the abdominal cavity). Depending on the type and stage of mesothelioma, chemotherapy may be given as the primary (main) treatment or as an adjuvant (addition) to surgery.
Several anticancer drugs have been used to treat mesothelioma. The drug most effective when given alone is doxorubicin (Adriamycin). Other drugs that may be given alone include cisplatin and methotrexate. These anticancer drugs are often given in combination to try to increase their effectiveness. Combinations of drugs used in the treatment of mesothelioma include methotrexate and vincristine; cisplatin, vinblastine and mitomycin; cisplatin and doxorubicin; and doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide (or ifosfamide) and cisplatin. Other drugs such as paclitaxel and irinotecan are currently being studied to determine their effectiveness in treating mesothelioma.
Chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells but also damage some normal cells. Therefore, careful attention must be given to avoiding or minimizing side effects, which depend on the specific drugs, the amount taken, and the length of treatment. Temporary side effects might include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, loss of hair, and mouth sores. Because chemotherapy can damage the blood-producing cells of the bone marrow, patients may have low blood cell counts. This can result in an increased risk of infection (due to a shortage of white blood cells), bleeding or bruising after minor cuts or injuries (due to a shortage of blood platelets), and fatigue or shortness of breath (due to low red blood cell counts).
Mesothelioma Treatment: Intraoperative Photodynamic Therapy
A cutting-edge treatment that uses a combination of drugs and light to kill
the cancerous tissue over the course of the surgery. Drugs that make the cancer
cells extremely sensitive to light are injected into a nearby vein several days
prior to the date of the surgery. During the surgery, a special light is used
to remove the cancerous cells from the surface of the pleura. This treatment
is currently being studied as an option for dealing with the early stages of
Mesothelioma in the chest.
For more information about specific mesothelioma treatments
, please contact us directly.
Copyright Calliope Media, Inc. © 2011 --- All Rights Reserved.