Once a mesothelioma diagnosis occurs, the next step a patient will take involves making decisions about the kind of treatment that will be necessary to address the disease.
Treatment for mesothelioma will depend on a number of factors, including the type of mesothelioma, the location and size of a tumor and the overall health of a patient. Additionally, the stage at which a patient is diagnosed will also influence available treatment options, as patients diagnosed in earlier developmental stages may have more options to consider.
An oncologist experienced in the treatment of mesothelioma can make wise recommendations as to the best types of treatment available to improve a patient’s prognosis and prolong life expectancy. To learn more about improving mesothelioma life expectancy, please fill out the complimentary packet request form on this page.
Chemotherapy treatment typically involves medications administered to patients intravenously (through an IV). The medications are intended to kill cells that are dividing rapidly. A variety of chemotherapy drugs are available to treat mesothelioma. One recently developed drug, however, is the only FDA-approved medication specifically designed for the treatment of this type of cancer. Known as Alimta ®, this medication has shown the most promise in the fight against mesothelioma when combined with other chemotherapy drugs like Cisplatin. Chemotherapy can be administered to mesothelioma patients intravenously or may be injected directly into the affected area.
Radiation is often recommended in the treatment of all types of mesothelioma. It is sometimes used in conjunction with chemotherapy or may be used alone. It is often suggested for pain relief or to lessen the discomfort of a number of other mesothelioma symptoms. Traditional radiation (external beam radiation) is the most widely used, though mesothelioma patients may also be prescribed treatment with brachytherapy, a process where tiny radioactive rods are implanted within the tumor for concentrated results without harming surrounding tissue.
Surgery may be recommended for mesothelioma patients, though it is typically an option only for patients diagnosed with the cancer in early developmental stages. Surgery is more often used as a palliative measure to relieve symptoms such as the discomfort caused by pleural effusion. Surgery may also be used to provide a definitive diagnosis.
Some treatments for cancer, like chemotherapy and radiation, have long been prescribed by doctors and are widely accepted as by those in the medical community as suitable therapies for cancer. Alternative treatments, however, have also gained popularity with medical doctors lately and many are now suggesting that their patients consider them as a complement to traditional treatments. Most are excellent for the relief of symptoms caused by the disease itself or by treatments like chemotherapy. These alternative treatments may include acupuncture, massage, meditation, hypnotherapy or aromatherapy.
Clinical trials test new potential therapies or drugs for the treatment of various diseases. Mesothelioma patients may be eligible to participate in one or more of these trials, provided they meet all the guidelines set forth by the organizers of the trial. Many patients wish to participate in these studies, hoping for an extended life expectancy. A patient’s oncologist can help determine whether or not a patient qualifies for a particular trial.