The location of the Mesothelioma plays a great part in the choice of the type of treatment, just like any other cancer. Also, the age of the patient, the stage of the disease and the state of health of the patient are important deciding factors too.
It’s not easy to treat Mesothelioma. And the prognosis is not good in most cases. The oncologist, a specialist, is the one who will recommend on the course of treatment.
The following are possible treatment options:
If the diagnosis is done in the early stages surgery may be recommended to remove all cancerous tissues. This means thoracoscopy, VATS or video assisted thoracic surgery, mediastinoscopy (used for staging), or laproscopy.
Often, doctors will advise palliative procedures like chest tube drainage and pleurodesis, thoracoscopy and pleurodesis, pleuroperitonial shunt, or pleurectomy, which treat the symptoms of mesothelioma rather than the disease.
Doctors often prescribe radiation aggressively for mesothelioma patients. They often combine radiation with surgery. Or, they may use it, in order to control symptoms, palliatively. Research on using radiation therapy using implants or UV light therapy is in progress as traditional radiation therapy damages surrounding healthy tissue.
Chemotherapy is an option and around 12-20% of patients respond to the drugs. Anti-cancer drugs destroy cancer cells and prevent their spread.
In mesothelioma, chemotherapy is not curative. The aim is to prevent spread of the disease; shrink the tumor prior to surgery, known as neoadjuvant therapy; to annihilate any remains of the tumor in the body post surgery; and to relieve pain and other discomfort, palliative chemotherapy.
Experts recommend prescribing premetrexed along with cisplastin. These drugs have shown positive results and this is now standard care for Mesothelioma not treatable by surgery.
Biological therapy using interleukin 2.
Immunotherapy where the body’s own immune system is stimulated to fight the disease. Biological response modifiers, BRMs, are used in treatment. These enhance the functions of the immune system; regulate metabolic reactions that promote growth of cancers; alter cancer cell division; block or reverse processes that lead to formation of cancers; and prevent spread of cancer.
Gene therapy, where attempts are made to correct the gene sequence that causes the cancer. This is of two kinds, replacement gene therapy and knockout gene therapy.
Administration of lovastatin, a cholesterol lowering drug.
In this treatment, the doctor uses a laser to activate a photosensitive medication during the surgical removal of cancerous tissues.
Draining of fluid
When patients have uncontrolled fluid accumulation with intense discomfort stemming from it, the doctor will proceed with this treatment. He or she will first drain the fluid in the chest or abdominal cavity. Then, the doctor will introduce medications into the cavity to prevent fluid accumulation.
Combination therapy is sometimes known as Trimodal therapy. In this therapy, surgery is accompanied by radiation and chemotherapy.
Often, complementary medicines are also used. Termed to be holistic this kind of treatment focuses on a patient’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well being.
In the case of Mesothelioma, which is untreatable, one can opt for clinical trials of new treatments that are in progress in several research laboratories and centers. The best advice on the line of treatment would be that recommended by the oncologist or physician.