Different treatments are available for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (a fatal cancer of the lungs’ linings). They include standard treatments (those currently used) and others being tested in clinical trials. You’ll need to decide what treatment you should have, who’s the best doctor for you and your situation, and where to get treated.
Serious Discussions About Important Topics
The decision process includes an honest and open discussion about your treatment goals with your doctor. Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer, so a cure is not a realistic expectation. Your stage and prognosis should impact your decision. If it’s an earlier stage and your overall health is good, you may be better able to withstand a difficult regimen. If it’s advanced, treatment may not extend your life, and your quality of life may suffer.
You must balance the costs and benefits of treatment. How much more time may a treatment provide you? How might its side effects impact the quality of your life? Do you want to take a middle road and get treatments with less impact on the cancer, but they allow you to maintain your quality of life?
The Five Types of Standard Treatment
The following surgical treatments, according to the National Cancer Institute, may be used for malignant mesothelioma in the chest which remove:
- The mesothelioma and some healthy tissue around it
- Part of the lung’s covering, the lining of the chest, and part of the lung’s outside surface
- One lung and part of the chest, diaphragm, and heart linings
Another surgical procedure involves using chemicals or drugs to cause a scar between the layers of the pleura (the lung’s outer lining). A catheter drains fluid from the space, and the chemical or drug is put into it. The scarring should stop the fluid build-up in the pleural cavity.
After a surgeon removes all visible cancer, you may get chemotherapy or radiation to try to kill the remaining mesothelioma cells.
2. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays or other radiation to kill mesothelioma cells or prevent them from spreading. Radiation comes from a machine that precisely aims at a point on your body.
Radiation damages all cells by destroying the genetic material controlling their growth and division. Malignant cells are more susceptible to harm from radiation than healthy ones, which may survive or repair the harm done.
Chemotherapy (chemo) is the use of drugs to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells. The chemo kills them or prevents them from dividing and reproducing. It can be infused into a vein or taken orally. It travels through your bloodstream until it reaches the tumors. Chemo may also be directly injected into the affected tissue. How chemo’s administered depends on the type and stage of your mesothelioma.
Immunotherapy uses your immune system to fight the meso. Substances from your body or made in a laboratory strengthen, direct, or restore your natural cancer defenses.
5. Targeted therapy
This uses drugs or other substances that identify and attack mesothelioma cells. Targeted therapies should cause less harm to normal cells than radiation or chemotherapy. They include:
- Monoclonal antibodies: These are immune system proteins made in a laboratory. They attach to a specific target on meso cells or other cells that may help mesothelioma cells grow. Antibodies (immune system cells that should kill diseased and mutant cells) should be better able to kill the mesothelioma cells, prevent their growth, or keep them from spreading. Monoclonal antibodies get into your body through an infusion. They may also carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to mesothelioma cells.
- Kinase inhibitors are being studied for possible use against mesothelioma. They should block chemical signals needed for tumor growth
Is a Clinical Trial Right for You?
A clinical trial is part of the cancer treatment research process. Clinical trials help determine if a new cancer treatment is safe and effective or better than a standard treatment. Standard treatments used for years were part of clinical trials before their use was widely accepted. You may or may not get standard treatment while participating in the trial.
If You Have Mesothelioma, Call Us Today for A Free Consultation
Nearly all mesothelioma cases are caused by asbestos. If you’re diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may get compensation from funds set aside by companies in the asbestos industry. To reach our office in Louisville, call 502-589-5600 or toll-free at 855-385-9532. You may also complete our contact form for a free initial consultation.