While there are many ways to treat mesothelioma cancers, three are considered “standard” and several others are currently being used in clinical trials throughout the nation.
Success with any treatment depends upon many factors – including the type of mesothelioma cancer, the stage of the cancer and the patient’s own health history.
Standard Mesothelioma Treatments
The three standard types of malignant mesothelioma treatment are surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
- Surgery. According to the National Cancer Institute, the four most common mesothelioma surgical options include:
- Wide local excision. This surgical procedure attempts to remove all the cancer – including some of the healthy tissue around it.
- Pleurectomy and decortication. This surgical procedure removes a portion of the covering of the lungs, the lining of the chest and a portion of the outside surface of the lungs.
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy. This surgical procedure removes one entire lung and part of the lining of the chest, the diaphragm and the lining of the sac around the heart.
- Pleurodesis. This surgical procedure uses drugs / chemicals to make a scar in the space between the layers of the pleura (the lining around the lungs). Fluid is drained from the area and then chemicals are used to “scar” the area – inhibiting future fluid production.
Even if all the visible cancer is removed during surgery, some patients may still be given radiation therapy or chemotherapy afterward to kill any cancer cells that remain.
- Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to either kill cancer cells or keep them from growing larger. There are two types of radiation therapy – external and internal. External radiation therapy procedures use a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy procedures use a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires or catheters, which are placed directly into, or near, the cancer itself.
- Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells – either by killing the cells altogether or by preventing them from further division. Chemotherapy can be injected or taken orally.
When injected into the body’s cerebrospinal (brain and spinal cord) fluid, an organ or a body cavity such as the abdomen (referred to as regional chemotherapy), the drugs affect cancer cells in those specific areas.
When taken orally (also known as systemic chemotherapy), drugs enter the bloodstream, which allows them to reach cells throughout the entire body. In certain situations, doctors will use a combination of both chemotherapy methods to attack cancer.
Treating Mesothelioma Through Clinical Trials
Doctors, scientists and researchers are continually looking for new ways to treat cancer. Some of the newer mesothelioma treatments being used in clinical trials today include biologic therapy, hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), photodynamic therapy (PDT) and gene therapy.
- Biologic therapy. Biologic therapy, also known as immunotherapy or biotherapy, is a treatment that attempts to stimulate a patient’s immune system to fight cancer by destroying or rejecting tumors and restoring the body’s natural defenses against cancer.
- Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). HIPEC is a type of regional chemotherapy being studied in the treatment of peritoneal (abdominal) mesothelioma. It involves surgically removing cancer, then taking a heated solution that contains anti-cancer drugs and pumping it into the abdomen to kill any remaining cancer cells.
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT). PDT uses nontoxic, light-sensitive compounds that become toxic to cancer cells when they are exposed to light. PDT is viewed as minimally toxic or invasive.
- Gene therapy. Gene therapy seeks to “correct” human genes that allow cancerous tumors to grow in order to control the size of a tumor, as well as its ability to spread to other parts of the body.
Legal Help for Your Mesothelioma Claim
If you or a family member is suffering from mesothelioma, our injury lawyers in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Clinton, and Columbia are here to help. Call Joye Law Firm at (888) 324-3100 or fill out a free online consultation form.