What are the options?
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for mesothelioma. The treatments that are available are aimed at extending survival times while making the mesothelioma patient as comfortable as possible.
Therapies can be categorized in to three main types: surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
What treatments should be made available is not predetrmined as there are no widely accepted treatment paths, however, just as the case with most cancers, the outomes of treatments are best when mesothelioma is diagnosed early. Any treatment path is therefore created individually to hopefully best meet a pationts' neeeds.
The exception to this is that there is a generally held view that one treatment alone will not have a significant impact - while combining mesothelioma treatments will have the greatest positive impact in extending survival times (multi-modality therapy).
If chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments are given after surgery they are termed adjuvant therapies.
It is currently held that if a patient with malignant pleural mesothelioma (stages I to III) is in good physical condition then adjuvant radiation and/or chemotherapy treatments should be followed.
The success of treatments for mesothelioma also depend on several factors, including:
Localized Malignant Mesothelioma (Stage 1)
- tumour size
- mesothelioma location
- spread of the cancer
- response to treatment
- patient's health and age
If cancer is only in one area (chest or abdomen) surgery to remove it and some of the tissue around it will probably be suggested.
If cancer is found more extensively treatment may be one of the following:
Advanced Malignant Mesothelioma (Stages 2, 3 & 4)
- Surgery to remove part of the area and tissue near it to relieve symptoms (radiation therapy optional).
- Surgery to remove all of the affected area (for example pleura, lung, part of the diaphragm, part of the heart lining.
- External beam radiation therapy to relieve symptoms.
- A clinical trial of surgery followed by chemotherapy given inside the chest.
- A clinical trial of surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
Treatment for advanced malignant mesothelioma may be one of the following:
Recurrent Malignant Mesothelioma
- Draining of fluid in the chest or abdomen to reduce discomfort. Inserting drugs into emptied area to prevent further fluid build-up.
- Surgery to relieve symptoms.
- Radiation therapy to relieve symptoms.
- A clinical trial of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Treatment will be based on many issues, such as where it came back and what treatment has already been received.
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