Mesothelioma Treatment Options

After being diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to know all of your treatment options. Discussing your treatment options with your doctor may be difficult, but it is necessary. It will help to have your close family or friends with you for your support and to help in understanding how your treatment will affect all of you.

Determining Mesothelioma Treatments

The specific mesothelioma treatment options your doctor will prescribe may depend on several factors. Treatment options can either be curative or palliative. Curative treatments are aimed at extending your life by getting rid of the cancer. The object of palliative treatments is to keep you as comfortable as possible and to increase the quality of your life. Your treatment plan will be prescribed on an individual basis.

No single plan works for everyone or even for everyone with the same type of mesothelioma in the same stage. Your doctor will take into consideration all of the following before committing to a specific treatment plan:

  • The type of mesothelioma and its current stage
  • The size and location of the tumor
  • Metastasis of cancerous cells
  • Your age
  • Your overall health

In addition to these considerations, treatment plans may differ between doctors and mesothelioma specialists. In addition, your treatment may begin before your diagnosis is complete. As your diagnosis becomes clearer, or if the disease should worsen, your treatment plan may change.

Most treatments for mesothelioma revolve around three primary procedures: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Your specific plan may involve a combination of any of these. In addition, several emergent and alternative treatments have also shown promise for many mesothelioma patients.

Mesothelioma Treatments: Surgery

Surgery is the most common treatment for mesothelioma in the early stages. Your doctor or surgeon will decide which type of surgery is required for your specific treatment plan. Surgery for mesothelioma falls into three categories: diagnostic, curative and palliative.

Diagnostic Surgery

Diagnostic surgery is performed to locate the tumors inside your body and determine the stage of the disease. While most biopsies can be conducted through non-invasive needle aspiration, sometimes, more substantial tissue samples are required. These are obtained by making an incision through your muscle wall and removing tissue.

Curative Surgery

Curative surgery is a major surgical procedure. Generally, to be considered for curative surgery, you must be in good health to endure any complications that may arise, and you must be able to endure a long recovery and rehabilitation period. The two types of curative surgery available for mesothelioma patients are as follows:

  • Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) – In this type of surgery, the surgeon attempts to remove cancerous portions of the mesothelium. The procedure can be effective for mesothelioma patients in the early stages, but it poses a high risk of complications.
  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy – In this type of surgery, portions of the lung and diaphragm are removed. It can be effective if you are in the early stages of pleural mesothelioma.

Palliative Surgery

The goal of palliative surgery is to improve your quality of life. This is done by removing cancerous tissue or draining fluid that is causing discomfort or pain. The goal of palliative surgery is not to stop the progression of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Treatments: Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for mesothelioma. It is also one of the least invasive treatments. Chemotherapy can help to reduce symptoms of mesothelioma, prolong your life expectancy and improve your quality of life. Chemotherapy is usually the first choice for patients who do not qualify for surgery.

Chemotherapy can destroy cancerous cells through a combination of medications. The most commonly used combination is pemetrexed and cisplatin. Pemetrexed is the only chemotherapy drug used specifically for mesothelioma. Other combinations of drugs may also be used, but they are used for several different types of cancer.

The drugs are usually administered intravenously or through a catheter that leads directly to the affected mesothelium. The downside of chemotherapy is that many patients experience severe side effects, including nausea, vomiting and hair loss.

Mesothelioma Treatments: Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is usually used to treat mesothelioma in patients that are not candidates for surgery and do not respond to chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is more tolerable than chemotherapy, but is usually not as effective. It is commonly used as a palliative treatment to improve your quality of life.

Radiation therapy involves subjecting portions of your body to radiation or to radioactive elements. The radiation destroys cancerous cells, but it usually does not destroy enough of them to stop the progression of the disease.

Emergent and Alternative Mesothelioma Treatments

Several relatively new treatments have proven effective for mesothelioma. Among these are immunotherapy, gene therapy and photodynamic therapy.

  • Immunotherapy – This type of treatment focuses on improving your body’s immune system to help in destroying the cancerous cells within your body. In most patients, the immune system is not strong enough on its own. However, with immune therapy, your immune system can be trained to recognize cancerous cells as foreign invaders and target them for elimination.
  • Gene therapy – Gene therapy is an experimental treatment that involves replacing your genes that may be causing or exasperating your condition. Gene therapy can sometimes be used to cause cancerous cells to kill themselves.
  • Photodynamic therapy – Photodynamic therapy is a type of chemotherapy that can be used to specifically target cancerous cells. Special light-sensitive drugs are injected into the body, and an ultraviolet light is then used to activate the drugs where they are needed.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is imperative that you contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to assess your situation and prospective claim for compensation, and we encourage you to contact the offices of Goldberg & Osborne today. Simply call 1-800-THE-EAGLE (1-800-843-3245) or fill out our online case form for your free, no obligation evaluation. We work at no cost until we win your case!

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Email us information about your potential claim, or give us a call 24/7 at 1-800-THE-EAGLE (1-800-843-3245) for a free, no obligation consultation.
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