A diagnosis of mesothelioma is life-changing.
By the time mesothelioma is diagnosed it may already be in the advanced stage, thus ruling out surgery as a treatment option. Because the disease is an aggressive and rare form of cancer, the odds of survival are low. But does that mean there is no medical treatment available at all?
Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation
Different types of treatment exist for mesothelioma. Your doctor can help you determine the one that best fits your situation, depending on your overall health, stage of the cancer and the cancer’s location in your body.
Aggressive treatment may be an option, but the side effects may make things more difficult even if you only experience a slight improvement. Other treatments, however, focus on providing more comfort to patients hoping to live their remaining days as pain free or free of symptoms as possible.
Treatments for mesothelioma include:
- Surgery: If physicians diagnose the disease early, this treatment option is sometimes used. In certain cases, surgery may appear to remove the cancer. Surgical options, like an extrapleural pneumonectomy may include removing the tissue surrounding the lungs or removing a lung or simply decreasing fluid build-up..
- Chemotherapy: The chemicals that kill cancer cells travel through your body attempting to shrink the cancer or slow the growth of the mesothelioma that could not be removed by surgery. It may also be used to attempt to prevent or delay the cancer from growing back.
- Radiation: Beams from X-rays and protons target certain areas of your body through radiation. This more-targeted treatment may take place after surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy relies on your immune system to fight the cancer. It uses drugs to stimulate a person’s own immune system so it can better recognize and destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy differs from chemotherapy. It is a more targeted treatment that only kills abnormal cells. The scope of chemotherapy is broader and also kills cells that are healthy.
- Targeted therapy: Drugs in this treatment go after certain vulnerabilities within cancer cells.
- Hospice: If the other treatment options are not available or cease working, your doctor may suggest the use of Hospice services, designed to minimize pain and provide care and comfort.
There are interventions to consider, even after a mesothelioma diagnosis. Choosing the option most appropriate to your situation requires close collaboration with your doctor and other medical professionals.