Mesothelioma Treatment Options
Treatment options for malignant mesothelioma are generally the same as for other types of cancer. However, due to the fact that the disease is typically diagnosed at a late stage, treatment rarely stops the progression of the disease, and regression is also untypical.
The progression of mesothelioma is broken into stages, and treatment options are based on the stage of the disease.
Stages of Mesothelioma
- Stage 1 occurs when the tumor lies completely within the capsule of the pleura, minus swollen lymph nodes, known as adenopathy.
- Stage 2 stage 1 plus the tumor has spread and there is presence of adenopathy. Also, the boundaries of the tumor allow for removal of the tumor without cutting into other organs.
- Stage 3 extension of the disease into the chest wall or into the heart through the diaphragm or peritoneum, or outside the pleura to involve the lymph nodes.
- Stage 4 occurs when the cancer has formed in distant organs through metastases.
Chemotherapy consists of chemical agents that are injected into the body to treat cancers. The agents are designed to attack the cancer cells and damage or kill them. However, it is extremely difficult to develop drugs that attack only the cancer cells and leave other cells in the body alone. This is why many patients who undergo chemotherapy suffer many severe side effects. Patients become lethargic, suffer from hair loss, loss of appetite, become impotent, etc. The poor response of mesothelioma treatment to chemotherapy is not well understood, but it is thought to be related to the way mesothelioma cells develop.
Get more information on the three types of mesothelioma cancer cells epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic as well as pleural, pericardial and peritoneal mesothelioma.
Radiation mesothelioma therapy uses radiation energy to kill the cancer cells. However, similar to chemotherapy, the radiation not only attacks cancer cells, it also damages other good cells in the body. Radiation therapy has not been effective in enhancing the survival rate of this disease, but it has caused the disease to shrink.
Surgical treatments for malignant mesothelioma are relied upon since the disease is highly resistant to chemotherapy and radiation therapy alone. Surgery requires the removal of part of the lungs or other cancerous organs where tumors are growing.
There are two types of surgical procedures:
- Removal of pleura tissue and reconstruction of the lungs this procedure provides limited control over the tumor because much of the pleura tissue is left. The tumor is free to start growing in the pleura again immediately after surgery. For patients who have lost much of their breathing capability, this procedure is preferred because less of the lung tissue is removed.
- The more extensive procedure removes almost all of the pleura tissue and tissue from surrounding organs and membranes. This procedure generally stops the local growth of the tumors, but requires the removal of large areas of lung and other tissue.
All in all, surgical treatment has been met with limited success. With only surgery, the recurrence rate is high and most patients die within a few months.
Trimodality therapy includes a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgical treatment for mesothelioma. Typical survival after initiation of trimodality therapy is 22 months for Stage One, 17 months for Stage Two and 11 months for Stage Three. Regardless of the treatment type, it is important that the patient begin physical activity as soon as possible after treatment.
Malignant Mesothelioma Legal Help
The onset of malignant mesothelioma symptoms has been linked to asbestos exposure. Most often, mesothelioma victims have been exposed to asbestos at their workplaces. Because employers have a responsibility to ensure a reasonably safe work environment, failure to do so might make them financially responsible for any harm suffered by their employees as a result. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact a skilled personal injury attorney to evaluate your situation and determine if compensation might be available. If appropriate, the lawyer will file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf to compel the responsible party to provide just compensation. You should also talk to an experienced attorney if your loved one has died due to mesothelioma or some other asbestos exposure-related disease. A wrongful death lawyer might be able to help you obtain compensation through wrongful death litigation.