Mesothelioma is often discovered at an advanced stage when the tumor is very aggressive; that is why the treatment is often ineffective. The type of treatment depends on your age, your health, stage of the cancer and organ affected: lungs, brain, lymph nodes, etc. several therapies can be used to mesothelioma, before starting the treatment, talk to your physician to determine which option is best for your condition.
Conventional mesothelioma treatment includes surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Sometimes, these treatments are combined to increase your survival chance.
Surgery can be performed to remove the tumor or a part of it. However, before considering surgery, your doctor will evaluate the course of the disease. He will evaluate your health carefully to determine whether the functions of your lung and heart are normal. In addition several exams should be performed to determine whether the cancer has spread into other parts of your body or not. If these conditions are not verified, surgery cannot be an option in the treatment.
The following surgical intervention can be performed in the treatment of mesothelioma:
Extra pleural pneumonectomy – this is an aggressive procedure used mostly in the treatment of mesothelioma; it consisting of removing the lung, pleura, diaphragm and pericardium. The purpose of this surgery is to physically remove as much tumor as possible. This is a risky procedure; it is often performed on patients who are young and are able to undergo major surgery.
Pleurectomy / decortication (P/D) – this surgical procedure is performed mostly when the tumor is advanced. It involves the removal of the pleura to reduce the symptoms and pain caused by the cancerous mass. In addition, pleurectomy may also prevent or stop the recurrence of pleural effusion.
Mesothelioma Radiation Therapy
Radiotherapy is often used in the treatment of mesothelioma. This method consisting of exposing the cancerous tissue to an emission of radiation to alter the composition of the genetic information of the cancer cells, thus prevent them from multiplying. Unlike chemotherapy, radiotherapy is a local treatment; it acts directly on the region of your body exposed to the radiation source. The radiotherapy treatment is sometimes used immediately after surgery in addition with chemotherapy to prevent metastasis.
Chemotherapy is a systematic treatment consisting of using drugs that attack and destroy cancer cells. Some of these medications can be administered orally, others intravenously. Depends on the severity of the disease and the state of your health, chemotherapy may contain a single drug (monochemotherapy) or many chemical agents (polychemotherapy). Polychemotherapytends to cause more adverse effects, but it increases your chance of surviving. Therefore, if you are young, you will mostly be recommended polychemotherapy . Certain medications that are currently used in chemotherapy to fight mesothelioma include:
- Pemetrexed (Alimta)
- Cisplatin (Platinol)
- Vinorelbine (Navelbine)
- Gemcitabine (Gemzar)
- Carboplatin (Paraplatin)
- Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
Unfortunately, those medications are always associated with side effects; some of common mesothelioma drugs adverse effects include:
Easy bruising or bleeding
Loss of appetite
Ringing in the ears
Painful urination or red urine
Damage to nervous tissue
Loss of balance
Reduced production of blood cells in the bone marrow
Homeotherapy is another treatment often used to fight mesothelioma and all other forms of cancer; it includes herbs and acupuncture. Unfortunately, none of these methods has been proven to effectively treat mesothelioma once it reaches an aggressive stage.