The type of treatment for mesothelioma that is right for you will depend on several factors-namely, the stage and location of your cancer as well as your overall physical health at the time of diagnosis. Your medical care team can help you make the best treatment decisions; but to get some idea of how your illness might be most effectively combated, consult the two-part guide below.
If your mesothelioma is “resectable”…
One of the first things your care team will determine is whether or not your cancer is resectable-a medical term meaning surgically removable. Malignancies that are deemed resectable are eligible for one of several forms of surgery that are “curative” rather than “palliative” in nature, meaning that they are intended to eradicate the cancer and produce a state of remission in the patient.
Stage I cancer is considered the most resectable, with surgery recommended in the majority of early-stage diagnoses as the initial and primary treatment measure.
Some stage II and even occasional stage III mesothelioma cases are also considered eligible for surgical interventional, but operating on mid- to late-stage malignancies is almost always considerably more difficult and requires the expertise of a highly trained surgeon. The likelihood of surgical removal being successful statistically declines, based on advancement in staging.
Stage 4 mesothelioma is considered operable only as part of a palliative care plan, which is intended to reduce pain and increase patient comfort with no clinically curative objective.
It is a very common practice for patients to undergo at least one round of chemo or radiation therapy following their operation in order to eradicate any malignant cells that may have been left behind in remaining tissues near the surgical site.
If your mesothelioma is “unresectable”…
Treatment for mesothelioma that is deemed inoperable-either because of the advanced stage or cell type of the disease, or because the patient is not in good enough health to be eligible for surgery-is not given as much likelihood of long-term success.
When used alone, the other two most common forms of treatment-chemotherapy and radiation therapy-are not generally considered curative measures. Chemo especially is sometimes effective in slowing the spread of cancer cells, thus potentially prolonging the patient’s life, and it can also be highly effective as a palliative measure-reducing symptoms significantly.
Another possible treatment for mesothelioma cases that are considered unresectable involves the patient participating in one or more clinical trials-which offer the advantage of access to new and emerging treatment methods that hold potential for curative success but carry a certain degree of risk that includes possibly unknown side effects and/or general safety. Despite the prospective drawbacks, mesothelioma clinical trials offer many patients-especially those in advanced stages of the disease-their best shot for treatment success and a potentially prolonged life.