There is no set course of treatment for mesothelioma. Rather, patients need to work with a doctor who is a mesothelioma expert to determine the best course of treatment for their individual case. With effective treatment, many patients are able to extend their mesothelioma prognosis by years.
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In many cases, mesothelioma patients are diagnosed at a late stage of the disease, where surgery for treatment is no longer a viable option. There are, however, a number of palliative procedures for mesothelioma patients to alleviate suffering.
Thoracentesis: This is a minimally invasive procedure where a needle is used to drain excess fluid from the lung cavity. This relieves pressure on the lungs of a pleural mesothelioma patient, making breathing easier and more comfortable. In some cases, talcum powder or antibiotics may also be introduced into the lung cavity during this procedure. Similar procedures may be performed to ease discomfort for patients with peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma.
Pleurectomy: This is a rarely used surgery for mesothelioma. Pleurectomy is a curative procedure designed to remove all or part of the pleura (the lining of the lungs affected by pleural mesothelioma), without affecting the underlying lung. In most cases, the patient’s mesothelioma has spread too far for this to be an effective cure for mesothelioma.
Extrapleural Pneumonectomy: This is an extensive surgery with limited success, but may still be a good option for some patients. This surgery involves the removal of a tumor without dissecting it, which may require the removal of parts of a lung, pericardium, and/or diaphragm. The final step in this procedure is the reconstruction of the pericardium and the diaphragm.
Peritonectomy: This may be an option for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. It involves the removal of a portion of the peritoneum, and can only be performed at an early stage of the cancer.
Chemotherapy is a widely accepted treatment for cancer. It involves the introduction of drugs designed to inhibit cell division, with the aim of killing rapidly dividing cancer cells. Chemotherapy also damages healthy cells, however, so it can present some unpleasant side effects and patients need to be closely monitored. Depending on how far a patient’s mesothelioma has progressed, chemotherapy may be either a primary treatment or used in conjunction with surgery or radiation.
Radiation therapy is a treatment that is often given as a complement to other mesothelioma cancer treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy. Radiation involves the use of X-rays to kill cancer cells. Two forms of radiation therapy have been effective with mesothelioma patients: external beam radiation and brachytherapy.
External beam radiation uses X-rays to bombard and ideally kill cancer cells. Brachytherapy, which is a newer form of radiation therapy, requires the implantation of radioactive material into tumors to elicit a stronger dose of radiation but spare nearby healthy cells.
Gene therapy is a newer treatment for mesothelioma, and is used with chemotherapy. Gene therapy, sometimes known as “suicide gene therapy”, forces cancer cells to bring about their own death through the introduction of genes that make cancer cells’ defense mechanisms useless. This makes the cancer cells more susceptible to medications introduced through chemotherapy.
Photodynamic therapy is a treatment that has been used to treat lung cancers, skin cancers, and pleural mesothelioma. It involves the use of light energy to kill cancerous cells. With photodynamic therapy, the mesothelioma patient is given an I.V. fluid that makes cancer cells highly sensitive to a certain kind of light. The patient is then exposed to that type of light, killing the cancer cells that have been treated.
Contact a Mesothelioma Attorney
Patients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, as well as their family members, are often eligible to file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the asbestos exposure that lead to mesothelioma cancer. If you or someone you love in Florida has mesothelioma, a mesothelioma lawyer may be able to help you recover compensation to help with the cost of care and other damages. Our Florida mesothelioma attorney team works tirelessly to achieve justice for victims of mesothelioma, and we never collect a penny until we have won our clients’ cases. For a free evaluation of your Florida mesothelioma or asbestos exposure claim, contact a mesothelioma attorney today.