While no known cure for mesothelioma exists, there are treatment options available which can prolong the lifespan of mesothelioma patients. Mesothelioma treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation or a combination of any of the three, which has proven to be more effective than any one individual treatment alone. In addition, mesothelioma patients may also try experimental treatments through clinical trials.
The three main types of surgery for mesothelioma include:
Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP)
An EPP involves the removal of the cancerous lung and parts of the lining of the chest, lining of the heart, the diaphragm and nearby lymph nodes. In general, patients diagnosed with earlier stages of mesothelioma and who are in relatively good health are considered good candidates for this surgery.
The Pleurectomy/Decortication surgery removes the cancer lining of the chest wall, along with any tumors growing inside the chest. This is a less extensive surgery than EPP because the lung is not removed. Like EPP, patients diagnosed with earlier stages of mesothelioma and who are in relatively good health are considered good candidates for this surgery.
Cytoredcution with HIPEC
The Cytoreductive surgery removes tumors from the abdomen, this is the only surgical option for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. When paired with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), the surgery can increase a patient’s life expectancy. Patients diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma and who are in relatively good health are considered good candidates for this surgery.
Chemotherapy is an anti-cancer drug that kills fast-growing cancer cells. The following chemotherapy drugs, or a combinations of any of two of these drugs, may be prescribed to treat mesothelioma:
Radiation therapy may be used in all stages of cancer. It may be used following surgery to remove any remaining areas of cancer that were not seen or removed during surgery, this is referred to as adjuvant radiation therapy. Radiation therapy may be used as a palliative procedure to ease mesothelioma symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, etc. There are only two types of radiation therapy are used to treat mesothelioma:
External beam radiation therapy (EBRT): This is the most common and effective. This radiation therapy uses x-rays from a machine outside the body to kill cancer cells.
Brachytherapy: For this kind of radiation therapy, which is rarely used for mesothelioma, a radiation source is put inside the body, in or near the cancer. Because the radiation travels only a very short distance, it minimizes any potential damage to nearby healthy tissues.