If you or your family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the next step is to discuss treatment options with your doctor and develop a treatment plan. There have been recent breakthroughs in medical treatment for all types of mesothelioma. There are traditional treatments as well as experimental treatments, alternative therapies, and clinical trials available for some types of mesothelioma patients to participate in. There are a number of treatments that have been developed over the years for mesothelioma patients. Traditional options for treatment of mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and multimodality therapy. Some types of alternative medicine treatments have also been successful in certain cases.
Surgery is often a successful treatment option for early stages of malignant mesothelioma and for benign mesothelioma. However, if the mesothelioma is diagnosed in the later stages, surgery is not a viable option for treatment. Often doctors will recommend a combination of therapies like chemotherapy and/or radiation coupled with surgery. The most common type of surgery used to treat mesothelioma is called pleurectomy. A pleurectomy involves removing the lining of the chest including the hem-diaphragm and the pericardium. It is a dangerous operation. Another type of surgery often performed on mesothelioma patients is an extrapleural pneumonectomy. This is a more radical surgery where the lung is removed. The surgery is usually only done on younger patients with a good prognosis.
Chemotherapy is a common treatment for multiple types of cancer, and it is used by doctors in the treatment of all of the types of mesothelioma. Chemotherapy is administered orally or through IV medications. Studies have shown that chemotherapy seems to be the most effective treatment option for patients diagnosed with mesothelioma. Chemotherapy is often supplemented with different combinations of vitamins to increase its effectiveness. It is also used in conjunction with surgery and radiation.
Radiation is often used to prevent tumor growth in patients who are in the later stages of mesothelioma. It is also administered to patients who have undergone surgery to treat mesothelioma. Studies have shown that radiation therapy alone is not significantly effective in treating mesothelioma. However, when it is combined with other forms of treatment, such as surgery, it has sometimes extended patients life expectancy.
Immunotherapy is another type of treatment for patients with mesothelioma. There are two ways to administer immunotherapy. The first is called active immunotherapy which is treatment with drugs that stimulate the patient’s immune system to fight the disease. However, the type of immunotherapy for mesothelioma is passive immunotherapy which targets particular cells instead of the whole immune system. Immunotherapy for mesothelioma is commonly administered through clinical trials.
Alternative therapies are also used to combat mesothelioma. These therapies include massage, mediation and acupuncture. Alternative treatments are often used in conjunction with other more traditional treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation, to treat the disease.
The side effects of mesothelioma treatment are often as difficult to bear as the actual treatment. Side effects include nausea, pain, hair loss, loss of appetite, sleep apnea, memory loss, and compromised immune function. These symptoms often last long after treatment is concluded.