Treatment for malignant mesothelioma varies due to a number of factors: the location of the cancer, the stage or severity of the cancer , and a patient’s personal preference. Naturally, mesothelioma sufferers whose cancer is caught and treated earlier have a greater chance of prolonging their life. Traditional mesothelioma treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, or a combination of the three which are outlined below.
Surgical treatment for mesothelioma is employed to either remove the cancer from the affected area of the body (i. e. , the lung or abdominal cavity) or to alleviate pain. If the mesothelioma has spread, it may be impossible to remove all of the cancer with surgery; however surgical intervention may help lessen pain.
Types of Surgery
Pneumonectomy refers to the surgical removal of a lung. There are two types of pneumonectomies:
Traditional Pneumonectomy – In which the diseased lung is removed.
Extrapleural Pneumonectomy – In which the diseased lung, as well as part of the pericardium, diaphragm or parietal pleura on the same side of the chest, are removed.
These procedures do not cure mesothelioma, but rather function to alleviate or control symptoms:
Thoracentisis – In this procedure, a needle is inserted into the chest cavity, either to drain fluid for diagnosis, or to drain fluid to relieve pain.
Pleurectomy/Decortication – This surgery removes the pleura in order to reduce pain or prevent the recurrence of pleural effusion.
Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells and/or to keep cancer cells from multiplying. The drugs may be administered intravenously or taken in pill form, and are often used in combination with surgery. Chemotherapy may also kill healthy cell in addition to the cancer cells, so side effects can be quite severe, including: nausea, vomiting, fatigue, hair loss, constipation, decreased appetite and mouth sores.
Radiation treatment involves the use of high level radiation to target and kill cancer cells in a localized area. The therapy is delivered in several courses, each one breaking down the cancer cells so they may be excreted by the body. Like chemotherapy, radiation may kill or injure healthy cells and thereby cause unpleasant side effects such as: fatigue, hair loss, skin irritation, nausea and difficulty breathing.
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