Wednesday, January 11, 2012

mesothelioma treatment

Cancer treatment usually focuses upon destroying malignant cells and preserving healthy ones. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. At the present, patients will typically utilize three primary mechanisms for mesothelioma treatment. Either surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, or some combination of the three are considered the most effective for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma. What course of treatment is recommended will largely depend on these issues.
Once a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, an oncologist can go ahead and plan an appropriate path of treatment for the individual. Since every person and their cancer is unique, a tailored form of treatment is necessary to ensure the best prognosis.
There are a number of different types of treatment available for this disease. Among the curative options that are available are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Many patients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma are given a combination of the three, in what is called a multimodal approach.

 By combining more than one of these rigorous treatments, it is possible to approach a solution to the cancer from various angles.In addition to these options, there are also some more experimental procedures. Among these options are photodynamic therapy, gene therapy, immunotherapy, hormonal therapy, anti-angiogenesis therapy and ozone therapy.  Unfortunately, these options are still in the experimental phase, with little knowledge as to their effectiveness. For this reason they are typically only available to patients as part of a clinical trial. Patients who agree to take part in a clinical trial are not only exposing themselves to treatments that may be beneficial; they are also providing researchers with  the information that they need to develop new treatments and possibly cures for people who are suffering from mesothelioma in the present and future.

Main Treatment Types

There are different forms of mesothelioma surgery and some are proposed as a curative measure, while others are designed to relieve symptoms of the disease that can be quite debilitating and interfere with the patient's quality of life.
Ideally, candidates for these surgeries will be in the early stages of the disease where the tumor is still fairly localized and metastasis has not occurred. In addition, the patient will need to be in overall good health and free of other medical issues that can complicate these procedures and lengthen the recovery period. Extant medical issues - like heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes - are often an issue with older mesothelioma patients, further limiting treatment options and making aggressive surgical procedures a less favorable choice

Curative surgery
curative surgery is a major operation - and, as the name suggests, possibly life-changing. But not everybody who has mesothelioma qualifies for such surgery. Patients who want to consider this surgery generally must have good health on their side.Ideally, candidates for these surgeries will be in the early stages of the disease where the tumor is still fairly localized and metastasis has not occurred. Doctors want to be sure that this kind of patient can withstand the rigors of a difficult surgery and arduous rehabilitation.the patient will need to be in overall good health and free of other medical issues that can complicate these procedures and lengthen the recovery period

Palliative Surgeries:

Palliative surgery for mesothelioma patients may involve the removal of cancerous tissue or the drainage of excess fluid to provide relief from symptoms and alleviate pain. While palliative surgery does not offer a cure, such treatment has improved quality of life and prolonged survival.


Pleurodesis is a palliative treatment option for those coping with pleural mesothelioma. This procedure is performed when pleural effusion is present. Pleural effusion is the buildup of fluid in the lungs, which can cause considerable pain and breathing difficulties.


Thoracotomy is a generic term that refers to lung surgery and the procedure can be performed on patients with pleural mesothelioma. There are three main types of thoracotomy procedures, including wedge resection, lobectomy and pneumonectomy. In cases where only small, localized tumors are present, a wedge resection may be performed to remove the tumor


This procedure is used to address pleural effusion, the build-up of fluid in the pleural area surrounding the lungs. The fluid can make it very painful and difficult for a mesothelioma patient to breathe. The procedure is performed in an outpatient area by means of a long, thin needle that is inserted into the pleural space to withdraw fluid. The patient may return home a few hours after the procedure is complete and when the doctor is satisfied that no adverse reactions will occur.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is one of the oldest forms of mesothelioma cancer treatment available,

Radiation therapy is a common cancer treatment known to reduce pain among mesothelioma patients. In fact, numerous clinical trials have shown that, on its own, Radiation Therapy does not prolong survival in most mesothelioma patients. Instead, Radiation Therapy is best used with other treatments. radiation is often used together with chemotherapy for optimal results, or may be used after a form of surgery that is designed to remove as much of the cancer as possible.
half of the patients treated with radiation experience some sort of benefit. Side effects are generally easier on a patient than side effects from chemotherapy. The therapy itself is fairly straightforward. A specialist applies ionizing radiation to cancerous tumors. The radiation damages DNA and kills tumor cells.
Radiation therapy is not used to treat all forms of mesothelioma, particularly peritoneal mesothelioma. This type of mesothelioma affects the abdominal area, which contains vital organs and a number of different tissues. Not all of these organs and tissues are afflicted with cancer, so it is not necessary to treat them. But radiation therapy can be toxic to the small intestine, liver, kidneys and other organs. This limits any potential benefit to the therapy.
There are some side effects  of Mesothelioma Radiation i.e:
  • Skin redness
  •  Esophagitis 
  • Fatigue 
  • Nausea 
  • Radiation pneumonitis 
  • Cardiac damage
  •  Radiation myelitis 
  • liver radiation damage


Chemotherapy is one of the most widely in use treatments for cancer of all types. Literally meaning "chemical therapy", it was developed in the 1940s. The primary objective of chemotherapy is to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It attacks cells which are rapidly dividing and interrupts the division process. While chemotherapy is meant to target cancer cells, it can harm any cells throughout the body that divide quickly. For example, hair follicles are among the fastest growing cells and therefore are easily damaged during chemotherapy treatment, leading many cancer patients to experience temporary hair loss. chemotherapy is used for mesothelioma patients in conjunction with other standard therapies such as mesothelioma radiation. It may also be used in an adjuvant capacity following surgery to eliminate any tumor that remains after the procedure is complete.
Chemotherapy, over the years, has elicited fear in many patients and it is true that this type of treatment can produce unpleasant side effects. It is important therefore, that those with mesothelioma for whom chemotherapy is recommended for palliative reasons, carefully consider these side effects before agreeing to the treatment.
The results of weighing the positive and negative factors of the treatment against the impact on overall quality of life will be different from patient to patient but is necessary to ensure that the best treatment decision is made.

Side effects of Chemotherapy

  • hair loss  
  • Anemia 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Lower platelet count 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Rash 
  • Body aches 
  • Fatigue 
  • Fever 
  • Compromised immune system 
  • itchy in the feet and hands

 list of some of the chemotherapy drugs a mesothelioma patient may be prescribed:

  • Cisplatin 
  • gemcitabine
  •  Alitma 
  • Navelbine 
  • Onconase
  •  Carboplatin

These drugs may be used on their own or as part of a combination of drugs for more aggressive treatment. 

Multimodal Therapy

In a recent study, 46% of mesothelioma patients showed a 5-year survival rate following multimodal therapy
Multimodal therapy is one of the most common approaches to treating mesothelioma, combining two or more treatments that may be completed simultaneously or in a planned sequence. A mesothelioma specialist can most adequately analyze a patient’s condition and develop a treatment regimen that will best benefit the patient.


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