Mesothelioma Treatment in Florida and Elsewhere

The standard of care for mesothelioma is a multimodality regimen of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. In addition to removing tumors or tissue that has been overtaken by tumors, any of the three listed mesothelioma treatments may also be used to alleviate the symptoms.

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What Is Pleurodesis?

Pleurodesis is a surgical method of managing mesothelioma symptoms, specifically those caused by a buildup of fluid between the layers of the pleura (pleural effusions). To relieve the most common symptom, shortness of breath, the fluid is completely drained and an irritant is introduced into the area that will cause inflammation and scarring, filling the space between the pleural layers so that fluid cannot build up again.

The most commonly used irritant is asbestos-free talc, administered either in powder form or as slurry. This mesothelioma treatment may not be effective if there is a bulky tumor in the pleural space, or if the lung is encased in a thick peel of tumor located on the part of the pleura that covers the lung. 

Pleurectomy and Decortication

This is another surgical mesothelioma treatment method that can be used to manage pleural effusions. In this procedure, the pleura and the sac around the heart are stripped from the top of the lung to the diaphragm. There is a lower rate of recurrence of fluid building up between the layers of the pleura with pleurectomy/decortications than with pleurodesis.

Extrapleural Pneumonectomy: A Radical Mesothelioma Treatment

The most radical surgical procedure is the extrapleural pneumonectomy. The diseased lung, along with both the pleural layer that lines the chest wall and the pleural layer that covers the lung, are removed. The surgeon will also remove the sac around the heart, most of the diaphragm on the side where the tumor is located and part of the nerve that controls diaphragm movement.

The benefit of this type of procedure is that it allows for the largest amount of tumor to be removed. Also, because the lung is no longer present, high levels of radiation can be administered to the diseased area. However, this is an extremely risky procedure and survival rates are low.

Adjuvant Therapies as Part of Mesothelioma Treatment

Radiation is given as an adjuvant, or follow up mesothelioma treatment, to surgery. It is used to remove any microscopic disease that might be left behind. It also prevents recurrence of the disease in the area near the original tumor site and in the region around it.

Patients who have undergone extrapleural pneumonectomy are typically given radiation on the entire side of the thorax where the tumor originated approximately 4 to 8 weeks after surgery. There are two types of radiation:

  • External beam, which uses a single beam
  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), which breaks the radiation beam into thousands of smaller beams that can be focused directly on the cancerous site.

While IMRT is considered more effective, it has been associated with a condition called pneumonitis, or inflammation of the lung tissue, which can be fatal.

The second adjuvant therapy used after surgery is chemotherapy that makes use of a combination of drugs. The most commonly used combination is cisplatin (brand name Platinol) and pemetrexed (brand name Alimta). However other drugs are continually being tested to see if they are more effective.

Florida Mesothelioma Treatment Researchers and New Drugs

Researchers at the University of Florida examined the use of vinflunine in the treatment of advanced stage solid tumors like pleural mesothelioma. They noted that phase II/III clinical trials reported activities of vinflunine in advanced stage malignant pleural mesothelioma as a standalone therapy and in combination with other chemotherapy. While the data appears promising, further studies are needed.

If you're currently undergoing mesothelioma treatment in Florida, our team of mesothelioma and asbestos exposure lawyers can evaluate your case for free – at home or in the hospital. You may be entitled to money from negligent employers who turned a blind eye to asbestos exposure in the workplace.