Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in construction and manufacturing before its harmful effects on human health were widely recognized. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is often diagnosed in its later stages, making it difficult to treat. However, there are several treatment options available that can improve a patient’s quality of life and increase their chances of survival.
- Surgery: Surgery is the primary treatment option for mesothelioma. The goal of surgery is to remove as much cancer as possible while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible. There are several surgical procedures used to treat mesothelioma, including:
- Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D): This surgery involves removing the pleura, the thin membrane that lines the lungs and chest cavity. This procedure is often used for patients with early-stage mesothelioma who are not candidates for more extensive surgery.
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP): This surgery involves removing the affected lung, as well as the pleura, diaphragm, and pericardium. This procedure is often used for patients with more advanced mesothelioma.
- Cytoreductive surgery with heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC): This surgery is used to treat mesothelioma that has spread to the abdomen. The surgeon removes as much of the cancer as possible and then delivers a heated chemotherapy solution directly into the abdominal cavity.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It is often used in combination with surgery to help kill any remaining cancer cells. Radiation therapy can also be used on its own to relieve symptoms such as pain and shortness of breath.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is often used in combination with surgery and radiation therapy to help kill any remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy can also be used on its own to relieve symptoms and slow the progression of cancer.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a newer treatment option for mesothelioma. It works by boosting the patient’s immune system to help it fight cancer. Immunotherapy drugs are often used in combination with other treatments.
- Clinical trials: Clinical trials are research studies that test new treatments for mesothelioma. These studies are designed to determine the safety and effectiveness of new treatments. Patients who participate in clinical trials may have access to treatments that are not yet available to the general public.
In conclusion, while mesothelioma is difficult cancer to treat, there are several treatment options available that can improve a patient’s quality of life and increase their chances of survival. It’s important for patients to work closely with their healthcare team to determine the best treatment plan for their individual needs. Additionally, patients may find it helpful to seek support from family, friends, and support groups to help them cope with the physical and emotional challenges of living with mesothelioma.