It is very important for patients to fully understand their mesothelioma treatment options. While it is normal to rely on your doctor and the rest of your medical care team for information, it is also prudent to do some research on your own. In some cases, and depending largely on the stage of your cancer, treatment options may be limited; but for many victims of malignant mesothelioma, there are a variety of treatment modalities to choose from-conventional and alternative. There are also a number of different combinations of therapies that may be used together for optimal results.
Be sure to discuss all opportunities available to you with your doctor; and for some basic information about the most common conventional mesothelioma treatment options, refer to the guide below below.
An Important Note about Treatment Eligibility:
Remember that each case of mesothelioma is different, and determining which treatment method(s) is/are best for you will involve several factors-including the stage and location of the cancer, as well as your age, gender and overall physical health.
That being said, there are three forms of conventional treatment recommended to patients with mesothelioma-often in some combination, an approach which is called multimodal treatment.
Surgery-Approximately one in five patients with mesothelioma undergo surgery to remove the malignancy and sometimes its surrounding tissue as well, sometimes performed at the same time as the biopsy required for a conclusive mesothelioma diagnosis. There are significant drawbacks to surgery; it is usually a long and invasive procedure that is complicated, requiring the attendance of a highly trained surgeon, and has a number of associated risks. Additionally, when used alone, its efficacy is limited, with the cancer returning after removal around 80 percent of the time.
Chemotherapy-Chemo involves the administration of powerful anti-cancer drugs, either orally or intravenously. Though perhaps the most prevalent cancer treatment method currently in use, chemo almost always causes serious side effects including severe weight loss and muscle weakness. The most promising combination therapy, according to some recent research, involves the use of chemo to kill any malignant cells left behind after a successful surgery.
Radiation therapy-Powerful radioactive rays can be used to combat and kill cancer cells within a localized affected region. However, because mesothelioma attacks the lungs, heart and stomach-all delicate and vital internal organs-radiation treatments can be difficult to administer safely, without causing secondary harm to the patient. Newer methods for applying radiation are designed to be more precise and may offer safer application potential in mesothelioma sufferers. Radiation is also shown to be most effective as one of the mesothelioma treatment options when used in combination with one of the other aforementioned treatment methods-particularly when administered after surgery.