The most common treatment for mesothelioma involves a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Supportive treatments can help relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for many mesothelioma patients.
How Is Mesothelioma Treated?
Current recommendations for treating mesothelioma come from The American Society of Clinical Oncology. This group reviews and implements evidence-based updates on an ongoing basis. Specialists follow these clinical practice guidelines when treating asbestos-related diseases.
Treatments by Mesothelioma Type
The primary treatment options for pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. These treatments can relieve symptoms, improve prognosis and extend life expectancy.
The benefits and risks of each option depend on the cancer type and stage. For example, hyperthermic intrathoracic chemotherapy (HITHOC) for pleural mesothelioma is considered experimental and has not yet yielded the success rate that heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) has for peritoneal mesothelioma.
TYPES OF MESOTHELIOMA
Pleural Mesothelioma Treatments
Pleural mesothelioma affects the pleura, the outer lining of the lungs. Almost 75% of mesothelioma cases are pleural. Doctors prescribe treatments to remove or shrink pleural tumors, minimizing symptoms and improving quality of life.
Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP): EPP removes the entire affected lung and all nearby areas where mesothelioma has spread, including lymph nodes, chest and heart linings, and diaphragm.
Pleurectomy Decortication (P/D): P/D spares the lung and only removes cancerous parts of the pleural lining, chest wall lining, heart lining, and diaphragm. P/D is less aggressive than EPP but is still major surgery. Chemotherapy
Combination Chemotherapy: For first-time, or first-line, treatment with mesothelioma chemotherapy drugs, doctors often prescribe pemetrexed (Alimta) with cisplatin. If cancer returns, second-line options may include gemcitabine (Gemzar) or carboplatin.Radiation
External Beam Radiation Therapy: EBRT is the most common radiation treatment for mesothelioma. An external machine delivers X-ray beams to kill cells at the cancer site. Doctors may use EBRT before or during surgery.
Brachytherapy: This type of radiation is internal and uses a radioactive implant inside the patient to kill nearby cancer cells. Similar to EBRT, doctors may combine brachytherapy with other conventional treatments.
Palliative Care for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma palliative treatment is also known as supportive care with a focus on controlling symptoms. It can improve quality of life and relieve cancer and treatment symptoms.
Clinical Trials & Emerging Treatments
Mesothelioma doctors and researchers are testing these emerging treatments in clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy.
EMERGING TREATMENTS FOR MESOTHELIOMA
CryotherapyCryotherapy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that freezes cancer cells to kill them. Patients may receive therapy before surgery to shrink tumors, after surgery to treat recurrences, or as a palliative treatment to control symptoms. Gene TherapyGenetically modifying cells and viruses can help control cancer. For example, repairing the defective tumor-suppressing p53 gene kills cancer cells before they can replicate out of control. Photodynamic TherapyAfter injecting a light-sensitive drug into the patient, doctors use laser light energy to activate the drug and kill cancer cells.VirotherapyVirotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses viruses to find and attack cancer cells. Some types of virotherapy involve gene therapy or immunotherapy to make the treatment more effective.
Nutrition & Self-Care During Mesothelioma Treatment
A healthy diet and mindful self-care routines are essential techniques to round out a complete mesothelioma treatment plan. Overall wellness can help reduce side effects, improve mesothelioma prognosis and extend patient survival.
Diet & Nutrition
Following proper nutrition guidelines, advice and a treatment plan from a dietitian can improve a patient’s well-being and recovery time.
As a part of any treatment plan, patients should try to keep a balanced diet to maintain weight and energy. Maintaining an appropriate weight before surgery can reduce the risk of infection.
Diets rich in protein and calories can benefit every cancer patient before, during, and after treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery.
Protein allows muscles to heal faster from damage during surgery. Increased caloric intake gives your body the energy to repair cells and tissues injured during chemotherapy or radiation
However, some mesothelioma treatments can make eating more difficult. Several techniques, including certain foods and meals, can manage these challenges. Some patients may consider taking over-the-counter vitamins or supplements, but they should always talk with their doctor first.