Mesothelioma is a type of cancer and occurs due to prolonged exposure to asbestos. This cancer has a long dormancy period. Before showing the symptoms, a person could be exposed to asbestos for 10 to 15 years. If a person shows signs of mesothelioma, the doctor will conduct physical exams to see any unusual activity in the body. The possible physical exams include chest X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans for the chest or abdomen to locate any abnormalities.
Depending on the results of your physical scans, your doctor may conduct more tests depending on your condition. The next step can be biopsy—a physical procedure. This is when a small part of the body or tissue is removed for experimentation in the laboratory to check if you have mesothelioma. Your doctor will examine the part of your body that appears to be cancerous.
When diagnosed with mesothelioma, the affected can file a claim and receive compensation to pay treatment costs and other expenditures. The compensation amount is calculated after factoring in medical expenses, financial difficulties, loss of work, pain, and misery of the patient or their family. Compensation can be won in the form of a mesothelioma settlement or a mesothelioma court verdict. A mesothelioma lawyer will help you go through your options and choose the right one in both situations. Your lawyer may advise you to proceed to court or accept a settlement, depending on the strength of your case and claim.
Treatment for mesothelioma
It is your right to seek compensation for your damage; meanwhile, you must also focus on getting the proper treatment for yourself. The therapy for mesothelioma is determined by your health and other cancer-related factors such as the stage, cell type, location, and cancer spread rate.
Mesothelioma is aggressive cancer, and in most cases, a complete cure is not possible. Another problem with mesothelioma is that it is often found in its later stages because of its prolonged latency. Therefore, it is often impossible for the doctor to remove the tumor with an operation. The only option left is to contain cancer with medications and other treatments. But whatever stage you are at, getting the best treatment should be your priority.
Some people want to cure their cancer at any cost, even if it means experiencing side effects of the treatment. Others want to live the remaining life in comfort, knowing that there is no permanent cure to the disease. Therefore, their choice of treatment also varies. Below you can get familiarity with the possible treatments available for mesothelioma.
Surgery is considered the best treatment in the case of mesothelioma to control the spread of the tumor and prolong a person’s life. In the surgical treatment, the doctor will remove the visible tumor masses and, in some instances, the surrounding tissues and the affected organ.
In some cases, the surgical procedure can cure mesothelioma in a person’s body. Still, more frequently, it cannot remove whole cancer and only improves the patient’s symptoms and condition. Doctors have devised different surgical procedures depending on the type of mesothelioma.
Surgery for pleural mesothelioma
The main surgical procedure for pleural mesothelioma includes Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP) and Pleurectomy with Decortication (P/D).
EEP generally combines with chemotherapy or radiation to help prolong the patient’s life. It is a procedure in which all visible tumor masses, damaged lungs, a portion of the diseased parietal (outer) pleura, and pericardium are removed.
Pleurectomy with Decortication (P/D) generally removes the tumor masses, the diaphragm, the diseased parietal pleura, a portion of the pericardium, and some affected lung tissues if needed. Due to its severe procedures, the earlier type of surgery is considered more aggressive. According to some studies, the patients who undergo EPP have an average life of up to 27 months. In contrast, the average life of patients undergoing P/D is up to 29 months.
Chemotherapy for mesothelioma
Chemotherapy is another possible treatment used to treat pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma patients. In the case of pericardial mesothelioma, chemotherapy has shown varied results. This procedure uses chemicals to kill the cancer cells. The chemotherapy may travel through the whole body throughout the procedure, shrinking or slowing the growth of a tumor that cannot be cured with surgery.
A type of chemotherapy called neoadjuvant chemotherapy is used before the surgery to make the operation less complicated. Adjuvant chemotherapy is the treatment used after the surgery to diminish the chances of cancer returning.
In intraperitoneal chemotherapy, the drugs are heated and administered directly to the abdominal cavity when the patient has peritoneal mesothelioma. Whatever type of cancer you have, make sure you go to a cancer center with a profound chemotherapy experience and administer the best medications according to your cancer type.
Radiation is a treatment commonly used in cancer treatments, including mesothelioma. In most instances, radiation therapy is used in pleural mesothelioma. The treatment uses powerful electromagnetic waves and protons from sources such as X-rays. It focuses on one or more specific targets in your body. Radiation can also be used as a source to kill the remaining cancer cells after surgery or chemotherapy treatment.
Other mesothelioma treatments
Research is underway to find better and more effective treatments for mesothelioma of all types. Other treatments used for mesothelioma include immunotherapy, gene therapy, Tumor Treating Fields Systems, Cryotherapy.
As the name implies, immunotherapy improves the patient’s immunity, making the body better prepared to fight and kill cancer cells. Some effective medications boost the immunity of a person.
Another treatment known as gene therapy modifies the DNA of cancerous or healthy cells to make them fight the tumor. In this therapy, modified viruses inject new genes into the tumor cells.
Tumor Treating Fields (TTF)
The procedure uses carefully tuned electric fields to disturb and kill the cancer cells. The electric field is delivered by a device similar to a bathing cap that perfectly fits the scalp. Recently in 2019, FDA approved a new TTF treatment known as Optune Lua™.
This treatment employs liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill the cancer cells. This treatment is further providing hope to the patient of pleural mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is deadly cancer, but various treatments can increase the life expectancy of the patients. The key to an improved prognosis is early diagnosis and treatment, which often does not happen due to the long dormancy period of this cancer. As a result, cancer is diagnosed in the patients later, making recovery very difficult. Nevertheless, various treatments can improve the symptoms and make the patient’s remaining life a little more comfortable. Research is continuously underway to find better medications and treatments for this cancer, which is good news for the affected ones.