Treatment For Mesothelioma
Treatment of Mesothelioma
There are a number of different options of treatment for mesothelioma. There are some options that can increase a patient's quality of life, alleviate their pain or even extend their life.
It is important to understand the treatment options are not set in stone because every case is treated individually. It is important that a patient stays in constant contact with their oncologist to stay on top of the treatment options that are in front of them.
Purpose of Mesothelioma Treatment
It is important to realize that treatment is usually not meant to cure the cancer, but to alleviate the pain of the patient.
Since mesothelioma is diagnosed so late in the development of the cancer, there is often little hope of a total recovery.
There are a number of factors that can determine options for treatment. For instance, the size, location and development of tumors might be an important factor. However, the age and General Health of the patient are also usually considered.
Surgery is a common option as treatment for mesothelioma. Surgeons will attempt to remove the visible parts of the tumors in the lungs. Surgery is usually not considered as an option that will cure the patient because the tumors have usually developed to a critical stage by the time surgery is even considered. However, there are some cases in which the tumor can be completely removed.
More often the surgery is palliative, meaning that it does not treat the underlying cause but simply relieve the pain of the patient. In severe cases, doctors may perform a pleurectomy which actually removes the lining of the lungs, called the pleura, in an effort to lessen the patient's pain and breathing difficulty.
Surgery and Chemotherapy
In cases of mesothelioma, surgery is usually coupled with chemotherapy -- although chemotherapy can be used without surgery. Two different drugs are usually given to the patient intravenously during chemotherapy. At this time, the food and drug administration has only approved the use of the combination of the drugs Alimta and Cisplatin.
Other drugs and vitamins are often given to a patient during this time to help battle the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, vomiting, weight loss and loss of appetite. It is important to remember, however, that chemotherapy can only prolong the life of a patient and offers no cure.
Mesothelioma Radiation Treatment
There are two types of radiation treatment for mesothelioma: external beam radiation and Brachytherapy. External beam radiation uses a machine outside of the body that shoots a beam of radiation at the affected area. Patients usually undergo radiation treatment about five times a week for up to a month or more.
Brachytherapy involves placing radioactive material inside the lungs and is used much less often. Both forms of radiation are most often used for palliative purposes because they are rarely powerful enough to cure.
Any number of these treatments may be used in combination with another. A patient must work closely with their oncologist to determine the best treatment for mesothelioma in their individual situation.