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Chemotherapy and Other Mesothelioma Treatments

As with any type of cancer, immediate treatment is a vital part of ensuring that mesothelioma patients have the best possible outcomes. Although there are new experimental treatments, the most conventional forms of treatment are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

  • Chemotherapy – a combination of chemicals in either pill or injection form that limit or stop cancerous growths.
  • Radiation – the use of x-rays to destroy cancerous cells. In addition to reducing the size of
    mesothelioma tumors, radiation – like chemotherapy – can also prevent the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. Depending on an individual’s condition, radiation can be used to shrink tumors before surgery and/or to eliminate malignancies surgery missed.
  • Surgery – the invasive process of cutting malignancies out of the body. Surgery is only an option if the mesothelioma has not metastasized and if no vital organs will be damaged. However, in some cases, surgery may be needed to treat one of the main symptoms of mesothelioma, ascites (a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity), rather than the cancer itself.

In addition palliative treatments are often offered in order to provide more comfort for the patient. Palliative treatments are defined as any treatment aimed at making life more comfortable for the patient. Palliative care can include breathing apparatuses, pain medication, acupuncture, or massage therapy. Palliate care is essential to improving the quality of life for patients suffering from painful conditions.

There are also new and experimental treatments being using to combat the effects of mesothelmia. Some experimental treatments include:

  • Photodynamic Therapy – used to treat skin cancers, as well as pleural mesothelioma and other types of lung cancer. This treatment is most effective in patients who have localized a condition (meaning it is not suitable for people with cancer that has metastasized). This type of therapy uses light energy to kill cancer cells.
  • Gene Therapy – This cutting edge therapy attacks cancer cells at a genetic level, enhancing the benefit of chemotherapeutic drugs. There is a lot of hope and regarding the results for genetic therapy in mesothelioma patients, however the therapy is only available through clinical trials.
  • Immunotherapy – This type of therapy tried to enhance the immune system response in the patient, to destroy cancer cells. Normally cancer cells hide from the immune system, because the body cannot tell the difference between abnormal cancer cells and normal cells. Immunotherapy treatments aid the immune system, helping it recognize and attack cancer cells. Specialized vaccines made from a patient’s tumor cells are often used in immunotherapy. If the treatment works, after the vaccine is administered, the patient’s immune system recognizes and kills cancer cells. Immunotherapy is typically only available to mesothelioma patients in clinical trials.

Treatment programs usually involve a combination of the above treatments. For example, a patient may undergo surgery to remove the majority of a tumor followed by either radiation or chemotherapy. These treatments are only performed on patients who are physically strong enough to undergo the surgery. When a patient is not strong enough the physicians and patient may choose to employ palliative treatments in order to improve the quality of life for the patient. This article is for informational purposes only, remember it is important to consult your physician in order to obtain the best treatment plan for your condition.

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