The most common treatments are:
Surgery, where the tissue in the affected area is cut out. This may involve removing part of the organ depending on the size of the affected area.
Radiation treatment, which involves the use of radiation treatment to kill off the cancerous cells in the affected area.
Chemotherapy, which is the use of drugs in the body used to kill off the cancerous cells.
A surgical procedure, known as pneumonectomy, can be used for pleural mesothelioma and involves the removal of the diseased lung. An extra-pleural pneumonectomy may be necessary depending upon the spread of the disease, and this may involve the removal of parts of the diaphragm as well as the lung. There is a high risk factor with this surgery, and its viability is dependant upon the patient’s overall health, smoking habits and the extent of the asbestos exposure. A pleurectomy is another type of surgery that may be used, and here part of the chest, abdominal lining and surrounding tissue may be removed.
Radiation treatment , which gives the benefit of treating the affected area without exposing the healthy cells and tissue, is another treatment used to treat mesothelioma. This is a speedy and commonly used method for many types of cancer, as well as mesothelioma. It works through the placements of radioactive sources in the affected area, which then give out radiation to kill off the abnormal cells. The radiation continues to transmit for around a year, working to destroy the tumour. Radiation therapy can be used alongside surgery, or if the patient is not well enough for surgery can be used alone.
Chemotherapy treatments can be administered in the form of pills or injected medication. The downside of chemotherapy is that the drugs used can contain high toxicity levels and can therefore make patients quite ill. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, weight loss and physical fatigue. There are also a number of post-chemo drugs that are used to alleviate the side effects of the chemotherapy. Because chemotherapy drugs are not targeted towards a specific area, they are left to make their way through the body and find the affected area. This means that they are also able to affect tissue and cells that are unaffected by the disease, which can again cause side effects.
Palliative Therapies may also be used on mesothelioma patients. These therapies entail draining excess fluid from the patient through the use of a needle and suction. To prevent further fluid accumulation drugs may be fed through a tube into the chest following the fluid drainage.