Five major approaches to mesothelioma treatments are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, palliative therapy, and biological therapy. Each method may be used alone, but often they are coordinated in combined programs to improve the overall treatment result. The extent of any treatment is always dependant upon a patient’s physical health condition, their age, the location and stages of mesothelioma (degree) of the disease, and the extent of asbestos exposure.
Surgery - Mesothelioma Treatment
Surgery - Patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma can be considered possible candidates for a surgical procedure known as pneumonectomy. This is the surgical excision (removal) of the diseased lung and, if need be, any affected parts of the surrounding diaphragm. In reality, pneumonectomy is considered a high-risk procedure and eligibility is dependant upon the patient’s present state of health and extent of asbestos cancer exposure.
Radiation - Mesothelioma Treatment
Radiation Treatment - Radiation therapy is the mesothelioma treatment of disease using either an external source of high-energy rays (x-rays or gamma rays) or internally implanted radioactive substances. These rays and substances are effective in destroying tissue and stopping the growth of malignant cells. In contrast to chemotherapy, radiation therapy is targeted towards a specific area and can treat the affected area without exposing the surrounding healthy tissue. Radiation can be used as a combination treatment along with surgery, or can be used alone to combat mesothelioma cancer. As with most treatments, a high dose of radiation can cause health complications.
Chemotherapy - Mesothelioma Treatment
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs in the cancer treatment. Standard chemotherapy treatments are either administered in the form of pills or injected medication, and may be used alone or in combination with surgery and irradiation. In chemotherapy, drugs are given according to a written protocol, or plan, that details exactly how the drugs will be given. Once these drugs are distributed in the body, however, both tumor cells and normal tissue cells are susceptible to their lethal effects, often making the patient very ill. Usually drug therapy is continued until the patient achieves a remission, which is the absence of all signs of disease. Common side effects of chemotherapy include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, weight loss, hair loss, and overall physical fatigue.
Palliative Therapy - Mesothelioma Treatment
Palliative therapy is a relieving, but not curative method by which to treat and control the symptoms of mesothelioma cancer. During such therapy, a needle is used to drain and suction excess fluid from the affected tissue. Generally, post-palliative drugs are administered to the patient in order to prevent further accumulation of fluids.
Biological - Mesothelioma Treatment
Biological Treatment - A more recent approach to cancer treatment, including treatment of mesothelioma cancer, is the use of the body’s own defense mechanisms to fight tumor cells. Medical experts are exploring how elements of the immune system can be restored, enhanced, mimicked, and manipulated to destroy cancerous cells. Substances produced by normal cells that either directly block tumor growth or stimulate the immune system and other body defenses are called biological response modifiers. Examples of these substances are interferon (made by lymphocytes which are important in immune response), monoclonal antibodies (derived from mouse cells and capable of binding to human tumors in an immune response), colony-stimulating factors (CSFs) that stimulate blood forming cells, and interleukins that stimulate the immune system.