Mesothelioma is one of the most hostile categories of cancer that is without a cure. It is a fatal disease caused by painted asbestos fibers. After diagnosis, mesothelioma has a weak prognosis and a life expectancy of about 21 months, or maybe less.
However, after decades of researching, clinicians have developed – and are still discovering – new diagnostic treatments and methods that can potentially pave the way for a cure. The extent of mesothelioma is a critical factor. Still, other factors, such as a person’s general health and preferences and the doctor’s advice on whether the cancer is resectable, also play a role. Although there have been certain advances in mesothelioma treatments, the outlook tends to be inadequate—therapies aimed at easing symptoms, increasing lifespan and improving the quality of life. Your doctor or nurse can discuss your outlook in detail, but it’s not always accurate.
Advances in clinical trials are still getting researchers closer to discovering a foolproof cure for mesothelioma. Some survivors are living healthier lives, regardless of the less-hopeful prognosis. Today, mesothelioma can be well-treated with a combination of therapies, such as radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy.
Here, we will flesh out each of these therapy options.
Chemotherapy is a common yet belligerent form of drug therapy meant to eliminate rapidly growing cancer cells in the body. A doctor who specializes in chemotherapy is known as an oncologist.
For patients with stage four pleural mesothelioma cancer, chemotherapy is often helpful as a fighting agent. For earlier-stage pleural mesothelioma, the treatment regimen of patients may consist of a combination of radiation therapy, surgery, and chemo.
In addition to regular chemo, Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal chemotherapy, HIPEC, is another advanced, highly concentrated therapy given to the abdomen during surgery. It can also be helpful to treat other types of mesothelioma.
For this form of therapy, your immune system is involved. Your body’s disease-fighting mechanism may not attack your cancer cells as they produce proteins that blind the immune system. Immunotherapy works by being intrusive with that process. Moreover, patients often consider immunotherapy when other treatments aren’t making any progress.
Surgery is often the first-in-line treatment when it comes to mesothelioma. It is helpful to remove tumors and offer relief from symptoms and pain.
Various surgical procedures may be helpful to treat mesothelioma, and the ideal treatment option relies on the severity of cancer. For example, if a patient has pleural mesothelioma, the doctor may choose one of the following options:
- Debulking: In this form of treatment, the surgeon eliminates as much of the tumor as possible. On the contrary, if a patient has peritoneal mesothelioma, the specialist may do an omentectomy. It is helpful to remove the omentum (a coating of fatty tissue that shields the organs in the abdomen).
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy: The surgeon removes the affected lung from the side of the body, as well as the pleura lining, the pericardium, the diaphragm, and the nearby lymph nodes.
- Decortication: In this procedure, the surgeon removes the pleura lining the chest wall affected by cancer, along with the affected lung, the diaphragm, and the mediastinum (a membrane that splits two parts of an organ).
4. Targeted therapy
This treatment targets cancer’s specific proteins, genes, or the tissue environment that encourages cancer growth and subsistence. Targeted therapy blocks the spread and growth of cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy cells.
Furthermore, every tumor is targeted differently. To discover the most effective treatment, your healthcare advisor may run some tests to verify the proteins, genes, and other present aspects in your tumor. This process helps doctors better to match every patient with the most effective treatment plan. Additionally, research studies continue to discover more about specific molecular targets and new cures directed at them.
5. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy involves high-energy x-rays or other elements to remove cancer cells. A healthcare individual who specializes in performing radiation therapy is known as a radiation oncologist. One of the most familiar types of radiation therapy is called external-beam radiation. In this process, radiation is released from a machine outside the human body.
Furthermore, a radiation therapy procedure usually consists of several treatments, which are as follows:
- Peritoneal mesothelioma:
For patients with this cancer, radiation therapy to the whole abdomen causes a few severe side effects. If a person has pain in a particular area, radiation therapy may be the best option to help relieve pain.
- Pleural mesothelioma:
It’s not easy to treat pleural mesothelioma with radiation. Because then, a person’s lungs are at risk. When one of the two lungs gets surgically removed, radiation therapy is offered to the chest cavity to minimize the risk of cancer returning to the chest. For example, this method may be suitable after extrapleural pneumonectomy.
When it comes to the side effects, radiation therapy can cause mild skin reactions, tiredness, loose bowel movements, and an upset stomach. The majority of the side effects fade soon after the treatment gets finished.
6. Medication-based therapies
In simpler words, medication-based therapies are altogether called “systemic therapy.” This type of therapy uses medication to extinguish cancer cells. The medication is given via the bloodstream. It gets done to travel throughout the body and kill every cancer cell that comes in the way. Moreover, an oncologist usually prescribes systemic therapies.
Common ways to offer systemic therapies involve an intravenous IV tube positioned into a vein with the help of a needle in a capsule or pill.
The medications used to cure cancer are continually getting evaluated. Talk to your doctor about the type of medication you receive for the treatment, including their potential side effects and purpose.
Yes, battling cancer is terrifying. But, if you choose hope, anything is possible. The breakthroughs made within the mesothelioma diagnostic tests and treatments are enough to offer a ray of hope. Before you choose a treatment, you might want to talk to your specialist or family. The choices will vary on your age, general health, and extent of symptoms.
Moreover, your doctor will walk you through the options in detail and will respect your opinions at every step. While you engage yourself in any of the above-said therapy options, try to avoid anything that worsens your symptoms and signs. For instance, if you are experiencing shortness of breath, call/meet your doctor. On the other hand, if the situation becomes painful or distressing, seek immediate medical care.