Mesothelioma is touted as deadly because most of the cases
are diagnosed when in advanced stage and doctors have little
solace to offer by then. Still doctors try to do their best
to relieve the patients from severe pain of mesothelioma
using advanced treatments.
Before considering surgery as one of the propositions for
the treatment of malignant cancer, the health of the patient
needs to be carefully evaluated. The tests are performed to
check whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the
body or not. Also evaluation of the patient’s lung and heart
functions is done. In case of the former, a mesothelioma
surgery cannot be performed. Both the heart and lungs need
to be properly functioning state for surgery to take place.
Surgery is of two types: aggressive surgery (long-term
control) and palliative procedures (relief of symptoms).
Let’s define each of them separately.
Aggressive surgery involves removal of the lung, the pleura,
the diaphragm and the pericardium by a procedure, which is
known as extra pleural pneumonectomy. The intention to
follow this method is to physically remove as much of the
tumor as possible. It is in fact adopting a bold method to
do away with the disease-hence the name is “Aggressive
This surgery is extremely complicated and involves high
risk. This is because of the fact that there are possible
chances of death due to the same within a month. Extra
pleural pneumonectomy is therefore normally performed on
younger patients who are in good health and are in a
position to tolerate the surgery.
Palliative procedures are normally performed when the cancer
is in its advanced form. These procedures are performed to
control the symptoms of mesothelioma rather than cure them.
Pleurectomy (also decortications) is the process to
surgically remove the pleura. This method reduces the pain
caused by the cancerous mass and may also prevent the
recurrence of pleural effusion (fluid collection which
causes tremendous breathlessness). For patients suffering
from peritoneal mesothelioma, complete surgical removal of
the entire tumor is not entirely possible. In this case the
surgery aims to extenuate the symptoms, such as ascites,
Chemotherapy is the method in which drugs are used to treat
mesothelioma. It has been observed that this method is
partially succesfull. This is because the patient recovers
partially after using drugs or combination of drugs (In fact
the efficacy of this method increases, if combination of
drugs are used at the same time.) Some of these combinations
have proved successful and new drugs are being developed for
the treatment of this cancer.
In this method the tumor is killed by using radiation doses.
However, with the help of this procedure, killing the tumor
cells is quite difficult. This is because of the fact that
it is difficult to specifically locate the malignant cells.
Also the heart, lungs and other organs may surround the
same, and they are at the risk of getting damaged by the
radiation dosage. However lower doses of radiation can be
used to reduce the disease to a certain extent.
Both chemotherapy and radiation are used in conjunction
after the performance of the surgery. They both help in
killing any remaining tumor cells that were not removed by
surgery and may also help in relieving symptoms of the
disease like chest pain.
The treatment methods, which are described above, are direct
ways of treating a person suffering from mesothelioma.
However doctors and researchers are always on the lookout
for new ways to treat mesothelioma. The necessity for the
evolution of alternative ways to treat patients suffering
from mesothelioma arises because of the complex nature of
different types of cancers, and because patients respond
differently to various types of medical care.
Some of them are as follows:
Immunoagumentive Therapy (IAT)
The goal of IAT is to strengthen the body’s own immune
system. The same is done by balancing four different
proteins found in the blood.
Intraoperative Photodynamic Therapy (IPT)
This method of treatment is being used to cure early stages
of mesothelioma in the chest. IPT uses special drugs and
light to kill cancer cells during surgery. A drug that makes
tumor cells more sensitive to light is injected into a vein
several days before surgery. During surgery, a special light
is used to locate the cancer.
This is a unique method whereby the researchers either try
to improve the body’s natural ability to fight against the
diseases or alternatively make the cancer cells more
sensitive to other kinds of therapy.