The type of mesothelioma treatment your doctor will recommend depends on many factors, especially your cancer’s stage and location. Since mesothelioma usually isn’t diagnosed until it has reached an advanced stage, treatment may be aimed at controlling your cancer to make you more comfortable.
Your wishes are a very important factor in deciding on treatment options. Some are willing to try any treatment, even if the side effects are unpleasant, in exchange for a small improvement. Others prefer less aggressive treatments designed to make them as comfortable as possible for their remaining time. Please be sure your doctor is aware of your preferences when developing a treatment strategy.
Surgery is used in mesothelioma treatment when the cancer has been diagnosed early. Since it is not always possible to remove all of the cancer, surgery may be used to help lessen your symptoms. There are several surgical options available.
If your cancer is in the lungs, it may cause a fluid buildup in your chest cavity, which can make breathing difficult. Surgeons can insert a tube into your chest to drain away the fluid. They may also inject drugs directly into the chest cavity to help prevent the fluid buildup from happening again.
Surgery may also be performed in order to remove the tissue lining the chest cavity or abdomen, which can help relieve the symptoms of mesothelioma. The most radical surgical treatment for mesothelioma is the removal of the lung that has been affected with the cancer. Not only may it relieve your symptoms, if you will be receiving radiation therapy the doctors can use higher doses since they don’t have to worry about the radiation damaging your lung.
Chemotherapy is another weapon in your doctor’s arsenal. In systemic chemotherapy, the drugs are injected into a vein and travel throughout the entire body in order to either shrink or slow down the growth of a mesothelioma that cannot be removed by surgery. Another option is to inject the chemicals directly into the chest or abdominal cavity. In this way, the chemicals can reach the mesothelioma directly. This allows your doctor to use much higher doses without killing healthy tissue and cells.
Radiation therapy uses beams of high-energy particles, often X-rays, focused onto the exact location of your cancer, in order to reduce the severity of your symptoms. It can also be used after doctors have performed a biopsy or surgery in order to prevent the cancer from spreading to the incision site.
Your treatment may not be confined to just one of these options. They may be combined in various ways to treat your cancer as effectively as possible.
One final treatment option is to participate in clinical trials of drugs in development. You should discuss this option with your doctor as he/she will be aware of any trials that might be appropriate for your type of cancer. Even if a clinical trial does not help your cancer, by participating you are helping to increase the odds for better treatment options in the future.
No matter what mesothelioma treatment your doctor decides on, always remember that you are the one in charge and make sure to always communicate your wishes to the doctor.