Mesothelioma treatment usually combines surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. These treatments can help reduce symptoms and increase life expectancy.
Table of Contents
- Radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery are common mesothelioma treatment.
- Multimodal therapy is a combination of mesothelioma treatment.
- The development of single therapy can be an option when standard care is not effective.
- Palliative care helps reduce the symptoms of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma treatment can improve patient survival and comfort. A combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation is frequently used as a kind of treatment. Researchers also continue to test promising new treatments through clinical trials.
Effective treatment options vary from patient to patient. A mesothelioma doctor can provide specific treatment for your specific case. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, researchers continue to study ways to improve survival.
Types of Mesothelioma Treatment
Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are common mesothelioma treatment options. With mesothelioma treatment, doctors aim to remove the cancer and reduce symptoms. There is currently no cure for mesothelioma, but treatment can help prolong life.
Mesothelioma surgery is used to remove as much cancer as possible. For late-stage patients, surgery can also relieve symptoms. Palliative surgery removes fluid buildup and tumors that put pressure on organs, such as the lungs.
Chemotherapy for mesothelioma can be used before or after surgery to kill mesothelioma cells. This can stop tumor growth or shrink the tumor. Chemotherapy drugs can be used alone, in multimodal or palliative treatment.
Radiation targets mesothelioma and destroys cancer cells. This prevents cancer cells from multiplying. Radiation is usually delivered before or after surgery in a multimodal treatment plan.
Specialists can recommend multimodal treatment for all types of mesothelioma. These plans are a combination of several standard or new treatment options. For instance, surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy are frequently used by physicians to treat peritoneal mesothelioma (HIPEC).
There are different surgical options available for mesothelioma cancer. The choice of surgery will depend on the type of mesothelioma because each type affects different areas of the body. Surgery for mesothelioma can be done to remove as much of the cancer as possible. Some patients also need surgery to relieve symptoms.
What is Cytoreductive Surgery?
Cytoreductive surgery seeks to reduce the size and prevalence of tumors. The operation can be very successful in improving the patient’s prognosis and quality of life.
Unfortunately, no mesothelioma treatment is considered curative. However, many of these surgeries can improve life drastically.
Patients with mesothelioma may have either therapeutic or palliative surgery. Therapeutic surgery is aimed at improving the patient’s quality of life, increasing life expectancy and returning to better health. Palliative surgery may relieve unpleasant symptoms.
There are various surgical options for mesothelioma patients based on the individual case. Often, patient eligibility is determined by the type and location of the cancer. These locations include the lining of the lungs (pleura), the lining of the heart (pericardium), the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum) and the lining of the testis (tunica vaginalis testis).
Therapeutic Surgery Options by Mesothelioma Location
- Pleurectomy/decortication: Removes the lining of the lung and the visible tumor
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP): Removes the lung and surrounding tissue
- Peritonectomy: removal of the stomach lining
- Cytoreductive/debulking: Removes visible tumors
- Pericardiectomy: removal of the lining of the heart
- Orchiectomy: Removal of one or both testicles and spermatic cord
Surgery is often combined with chemotherapy, radiation and/or emergent treatment.
Chemotherapy is a common treatment for mesothelioma. Chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cells, such as malignant mesothelioma cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be used alone or in combination with other treatment options.
There are two types of chemotherapy used for mesothelioma patients:
- Systemic chemotherapypasses through the patient’s bloodstream. It is administered through an IV (intravenously) or in pill form.
- Intracavitary chemotherapy targetsthe affected body cavity, such as the abdominal or thoracic cavity. Doctors often use chemotherapy washout as a target therapy during surgery.
Chemotherapy often go in combination with other medical procedures like surgery. Palliative care can also follow chemotherapy, in order to reduce side effects.
Patients should consult their doctor if they experience chemotherapy-related symptoms.
Doctors also recommend radiation for mesothelioma. Radiation works by destroying cancer cells. This can remove cancer cells and stop them from developing. Cancer cells have the ability to develop and spread if untreated.
Radiation can be used before or after surgery.
- Neoadjuvant radiation is given before surgery. An example of Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy (SMART). Doctors use radiation about a week before surgery. This can help limit the cells to one area before the surgeon removes the affected tissue.
- Adjuvant radiationis given after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. When used after other treatments, radiation is a secondary treatment.
Palliative radiation may also be an option for patients with stage 3 or stage 4 mesothelioma. This may help shrink the size of the tumor and reduce pressure on the lungs or abdomen. This can make the patient breathe easier and help with stomach and chest pain.
For mesothelioma, doctors often recommend a multimodal treatment plan. Multimodal therapy is a combination of multiple therapies.
Doctors may recommend a combination of traditional treatments, such as surgery and chemotherapy. However, doctors can also supplement traditional treatments with newer therapies. HIPEC and immunotherapy are examples of treatments that have shown success in published studies. More are now available for mesothelioma patients in the United States.
Patients are also eligible for experimental treatment. Doctors may recommend experimental treatments for patients whose cancer has not responded to traditional treatments.
Mesothelioma Palliative Treatment
Palliative treatment may be an option for patients with stage mesothelioma. Palliative care is used to relieve symptoms and provide comfort to the patient. Unfortunately,palliative care may be the only option for patients with late-stage mesothelioma. This is also a common component for patients in the early stages.
Palliative care can be the main treatment when a patient has:
- Poor overall health: Patients who are not in good health may have a weak immune system. They may not be able to withstand the side effects of aggressive treatment. This includes chemotherapy, which can destroy both cancerous and healthy cells.
- Late stage diagnosis: Patients diagnosed atstage 3orstage 4 are often limited to palliative care. This is because the cancer may have metastasized, compromising the patient’s overall health.
- Aggressive cell type or type of cancer: Some cell types make treatment more difficult. For example,sarcomatoid mesothelioma is often more aggressive and difficult to treat thanepithelioid mesothelioma.
Palliative treatment options focus on symptoms, rather than targeting the cancer itself. Depending on the patient’s needs, this can be as simple as occupational therapy or as complex as a surgical procedure. For example, palliative operations such as paracentesis and pleurodesis can drain fluid in the abdominal cavity or lungs. As a result, this can reduce the pressure on the organs and increase comfort.
A mesothelioma doctor can help patients determine the palliative options that will make them most comfortable. Specialists may also suggest supplementing the treatment with alternative therapies.
Alternative Treatments for Mesothelioma
Many patients decide to supplement their treatment plan with alternative therapies. Alternative options often focus on the body as a whole, rather than the cancer cells. This may include:
- A new diet and work with a nutritionist
- Herbal Supplements
- medical marijuana
- Physical therapy or occupational therapy
- Yoga or meditation
Patients should discuss all alternative treatments with their doctor. This communication is important to ensure alternative choices do not affect other aspects of the treatment plan.
Clinical Trials for Mesothelioma Patients
Emerging treatments offer promise as a new treatment for fighting mesothelioma cancer. To determine its success, researchers studied experimental treatments in clinical studies.
Clinical trials each have their own eligibility requirements. Patients should consult their doctor to determine if they can participate.Clinical trials allow doctors to test the efficacy of these new treatment options. They also allow patients to try new ones if their cancer doesn’t respond to traditional treatments.
Examples of current experimental therapies for mesothelioma include:
- Therapy has
- Epigenetic therapy
- Photodynamic therapy
Create a Mesothelioma Treatment Plan
After a diagnosis, a mesothelioma doctor will help the patient develop a treatment plan. A formal treatment plan offers cancer patients and their families peace of mind. The plan will outline possible treatment options, a general treatment timeline, follow-up care and members of the patient’s medical care team.
Many different specialists will make up the patient’s medical care team. Your treatment team may include:
- Facility nurse
- Social worker
- Psychiatrist or psychologist
- Nutritionists lan dietician
- Hospice or home care provider
- Occupational therapist
Together, you, your caregivers and members of your healthcare team will make informed decisions. This choice will tell you what is best for your mental health, physical health, emotional health and general well-being.
A successful treatment plan has helped some mesothelioma patients become mesothelioma survivors.
Mesothelioma Cancer Center & Mesothelioma Specialist
An experienced mesothelioma specialist is best at treating this rare type of cancer. Not all doctors know about the disease. For many patients, the best option is to travel to a cancer center to seek professional and experienced care from a mesothelioma specialist.
Patients can find many mesothelioma doctors when they research reputable clinics and doctors. Patients should choose a doctor who specializes in the type of mesothelioma. For example, some doctors specialize in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. He has experience studying these diseases and finding promising treatments.
Mesothelioma Treatment Costs
Mesothelioma treatment can be expensive, but financial help is available. Insurance plans often cover some of the medical expenses for mesothelioma cancer treatment.
Costs for Mesothelioma Patients to Consider
- insurance limits
- Loss of income due to not working
- Home care assistance
- Travel costs to see distant specialists
Patients should create a financial plan to understand and manage the costs of mesothelioma treatment.
Mesothelioma victims or their loved ones may also be eligible for compensation to pay for treatment. There are several options available to asbestos victims to help with associated costs.
Compensation options include veterans’ benefits, mesothelioma and asbestos claims, trust fund claims or workers’ compensation. Ideally, patients can receive financial assistance to cover the costs associated with the best care.
To review these compensation options, mesothelioma patients should contact an asbestos attorney. Asbestos attorneys can help patients throughout the legal process. This allows victims and their loved ones to focus on their treatment journey.