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2019 Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that is difficult to treat and manage. But there is always hope and there are options for patients struggling with this disease. While mesothelioma is nearly impossible to cure, treatment options in 2019 can extend a patient’s life and manage symptoms to improve quality of life.

From surgery to chemotherapy, emerging treatments, and even alternative therapies, patients have treatment choices. With the support of loved ones, with all the information, and with a great medical team, you can make the right decisions about your mesothelioma treatment.

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Mesothelioma is notoriously difficult to treat, and most patients get a prognosis that is disappointing. However, treatments have come a long way in recent decades and specialists are helping patients live longer and with a better quality of life.

In addition to improvements in novel therapies and traditional treatments like chemotherapy, mesothelioma patients also benefit from a number of specialized mesothelioma treatment centers. These are found all around the country, and they provide compassionate, effective care from mesothelioma experts and access to clinical trials.

Some of the most important advances in mesothelioma treatment include improvements in safety and effectiveness of surgical procedures, currently the best way to try to cure this cancer.

There have also been developments in experimental and novel treatments, like gene therapy. Many of these improvements are being made in clinical trials and there is great promise for new, better treatments.

Medicine and science have not yet found a cure for this rare and difficult disease, however, important progress has been made. Patients are now living longer and more comfortably despite their diagnosis. This is thanks to advances in treatments and specialty facilities staffed by professionals dedicated to advancing care.

Consult a

Mesothelioma Specialist

One of the most important things you need to do if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma is to choose a mesothelioma specialist for consultation and treatment. Physicians who have dedicated themselves to the treatment of mesothelioma have extensive knowledge and experience in the specialized tools available to combat this disease. They are able to provide you with the best options and chances for longer survival.

Start with your trusted internist or family doctor, but know that you will need a specialist to get the treatment you really need. Your doctor can help guide you to those professionals, and to the dedicated treatment centers that are best equipped to give you top-notch care.

Mesothelioma

Treatment Facilities

Oncologists, physicians, and other medical professionals who specialize in helping mesothelioma patients can be found at specialized treatment centers across the country. These facilities are equipped to treat this rare cancer and often engage in cutting-edge research.

Specialized mesothelioma treatment centers have the staff, the equipment, the knowledge and the experience that allow them to provide the best care. Access to these cancer treatment facilities depends on where you live and whether or not you can travel. But there are a number of options and renowned facilities in most states or regions.

Making treatment decisions is difficult, but when you have all the information you can make the choices that are best for you and your family. The experts at specialty treatment facilities will guide you. They can provide the information to help you sort through treatment options and ensure a better, more comfortable life as you battle mesothelioma.

What are available

Treatment Options?

A plan for treatment of mesothelioma depends on several factors. These include the type of mesothelioma and its stage, as well as individual and personal factors like age, health, and treatment preferences. Patients must consider how aggressive want treatment to be. Some patients want to extend their lives as much as possible, while others are more interested in being comfortable in the remaining time they have. For most patients treatment plans include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

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Surgery

Surgical treatment for mesothelioma is used to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. It is often combined chemotherapy or radiation to eliminate any tumor growth that a surgeon was unable to remove. Aggressive types of surgery can be used to attempt to cure mesothelioma, but generally it is used to extend a patient’s life, or to make quality of life better by providing relief from some of the symptoms.

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Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a standard and common treatment for mesothelioma. It involves administering drugs that target and damage fast-growing cells throughout the body, including cancer cells. The drugs are usually given intravenously. Multiple rounds are typically needed, and this can cause a lot of uncomfortable side effects. An innovative and promising new treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma involves washing the abdominal cavity with heated chemotherapy drugs.

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Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses a beam of high-energy particles to target and kill cancer cells. It is typically used as an adjunct to surgery, chemotherapy, or both. Radiation is often used before surgery to reduce tumor sizes or after surgery to destroy any remaining tumor cells. Traditionally radiation is administered from outside the body, but new innovations are allowing oncologists to deliver radiation internally for more targeted treatment.

Surgery

Surgical treatment for mesothelioma is used to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. It is often combined chemotherapy or radiation to eliminate any tumor growth that a surgeon was unable to remove. Aggressive types of surgery can be used to attempt to cure mesothelioma, but generally it is used to extend a patient’s life, or to make quality of life better by providing relief from some of the symptoms.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a standard and common treatment for mesothelioma. It involves administering drugs that target and damage fast-growing cells throughout the body, including cancer cells. The drugs are usually given intravenously. Multiple rounds are typically needed, and this can cause a lot of uncomfortable side effects. An innovative and promising new treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma involves washing the abdominal cavity with heated chemotherapy drugs.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses a beam of high-energy particles to target and kill cancer cells. It is typically used as an adjunct to surgery, chemotherapy, or both. Radiation is often used before surgery to reduce tumor sizes or after surgery to destroy any remaining tumor cells. Traditionally radiation is administered from outside the body, but new innovations are allowing oncologists to deliver radiation internally for more targeted treatment.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma you will likely be treated using a multi-modal approach. This means using a combination of treatments. Each enhances the effectiveness of the others. A combination of surgery with chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or of all three treatment types often gives the best results. For patients in earlier stages, these can be used aggressively to slow the cancer's growth and prolong the patient's life.

For more advanced cancer doctors usually recommend a palliative approach that has the main goal of providing relief for symptoms and a higher quality of life. Palliative care doesn't traditionally include major surgery, as most patients are not healthy enough for it and because surgery will not effectively remove most of the cancer. But some minor surgical treatments may be offered to provide pain relief.

Many mesothelioma patients have also found hope in experimental approaches. These are novel therapies being investigated in clinical trials. Discuss such options as photodynamic therapy, immunotherapy, or gene therapy with your physician and talk to your specialist about how to qualify for clinical trials.

What's involved with

Mesothelioma Surgery?

Surgery is not an option for all patients, but it is a treatment method that often gives individuals the best chances of extending survival time. There are several different types of surgery that can be used for treating mesothelioma, and these are usually most successful when the cancer has not metastasized and when it is limited to a contained area.

Surgical procedures are often combined with radiation or chemotherapy, or both when treating mesothelioma. The surgeon removes as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. The other treatments can be used before or after in an attempt to shrink tumors or to eradicate any remaining cancer cells.

There are also surgeries that, instead of aiming to remove all of the cancerous tissue, are used to provide relief from pain and other symptoms. This is called palliative treatment, and even if you are in an advanced stage of mesothelioma or your overall health is not good, your physician may recommend one or more of these procedures in order to improve your comfort and quality of life.

Procedures include:

  • Biopsy
  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP)
  • Lobectomy
  • Paracentesis
  • Peritonectomy/cytoreductive
  • Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D)
  • Pleurodesis
  • Thoracentesis
  • Thoracoscopy
  • Thoracotomy
  • Wedge Resection
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Is there access to

Research and Clinical Trials?

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In addition to the three standard treatments of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, researchers are working hard to find novel, innovative therapies for the treatment of mesothelioma. Many are still in the experimental phase, and are offered through clinical trials in order to allow physicians and researchers to determine their effectiveness and safety. They provide patients with unique opportunities to try cutting edge treatments. Talk to your oncologist or specialist about available trials and how to qualify.

If you are interested in being involved in a clinical trial, it is important to remember that the treatments being offered are unproven and come with no guarantees of success. They may or may not be beneficial, and they can even have harmful, unintended side effects. There is a risk but also potential rewards and participation in trials always helps to advance this important research.

Are there available

Therapy Options?

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is an exciting line of research for all types of cancer, including mesothelioma. It has been researched for decades now and big improvements are being made in therapies that use the power of the immune system to attack and kill cancer cells. The body’s immune system is naturally designed to attack invading cells like viruses and bacteria, and that response can be extended to cancer cells.

There are different types of immunotherapy, which include active and passive approaches. Active therapies use various approaches to stimulate the patient's own immune system to fight back against cancer. Passive therapies involve injecting the patient with immune compounds that the patient cannot produce naturally.

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Gene Therapy

Gene therapy is an exciting and new type of treatment that takes advantage of genetic material to fight disease. It involves manipulating the genome in a patient to treat the illness and has already been used to successfully treat other conditions.

In the treatment of mesothelioma, genes that targets cancer cells and kills them is injected into the body using carefully manipulated cells. This is just one strategy using gene therapy that is currently being studied for treatment of mesothelioma and there is a potential for more.

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy uses light energy to specifically target and kill cancer cells. Drugs similar to those used in chemotherapy are administered to the patient but are only triggered by light. Once they have accumulated in cancer cells the tumor is exposed to light, activating the drug that then kills cells.

Clinical trials using photodynamic therapy is already proving that it can extend life expectancies in patients with mesothelioma. The solution used in these trials has already been approved for use in other types of cancers and the potential for being approved for mesothelioma is high.

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Cryotherapy

This emerging treatment uses cold temperatures to kill cancer cells. Cryotherapy has already been used to treat other types of cancers, but its effectiveness in mesothelioma is still being tested in clinical trials.

While it may have the potential to extend life expectancy or cure cancer, many patients receive cryotherapy simply to relieve pain, as a type of palliative care. Cryotherapy can shrink the size of tumors, reducing pressure on the lungs or spine. Cryotherapy is safe and low risk, which makes it a desirable option for many patients.

What are options for

Alternative Treatments?

In addition to standard treatments and clinical trials, patients may want to choose complementary and alternative medicine. There are various types that are useful in supporting traditional treatments for cancer. Yoga, massage therapy, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and other therapies can provide a lot of important benefits for patients with mesothelioma.

When choosing to try these therapies it is important to remember that they do not offer a cure or extend survival times. Complementary and alternative medicine for cancer patients is not intended to be a replacement for traditional treatment. But, it can provide relief from stress, anxiety, pain, and other symptoms.

Mesothelioma specialists often encourage patients to seek alternative treatments concurrently with the traditional medical approaches that are being used. You may even find that alternative practitioners are part of a your mesothelioma treatment team.

With your medical team's guidance try alternative treatments and choose to stick with those that work best for you. There are a lot of options, including nutrition, homeopathic medications, herbal and traditional Chinese medicines, energy therapies, emotional based therapies, and body and mind-based therapies like acupuncture and acupressure, yoga and massage, and meditation and other relaxation techniques.

What are my options

Paying For Mesothelioma Treatment?

Mesothelioma treatments can be very expensive. Surgeries alone run into the thousands of dollars. Typical costs for lung surgery, which is similar to mesothelioma surgery, are up to $40,000. Chemotherapy takes weeks weeks to administer, which can mean costs of $30,000 or more for a full course. Typical costs for radiation therapy are around $2,000 per month. Alternative therapies may cost less but are an added expense.

Patients without health insurance or with limited coverage may find themselves facing serious financial costs and big decisions. The cost of treating mesothelioma is very high, and that does not begin to address the additional financial burdens of traveling for treatment or the loss of wages due to illness.

Some patients may go into debt trying to fund treatment and simply daily expenses of living. If you choose this route it can leave you in a big financial hole that is impossible to climb out of later. The good news is that there are other options and even financial assistance available to most patients.

If you need help paying for treatment and other expenses, look for organizations that offer assistance. Mesothelioma facilities often offer a variety of types of aid for those who cannot afford to travel for their care. Veterans of the U.S. military may be eligible for special benefits, and some clinical trials and grants may also be available.

Page edited by Dave Foster

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Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available.

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Where can I

Learn about the latest treatments?

For over 15 years, we’ve provided the best FREE resources to mesothelioma patients and loved ones. Our resources include information on the leading treatment options and best doctors in your area, lessons learned from survivors, claims and benefits specifically for Veterans, and how to access your share of billions of dollars in trust fund money.

Learn about the latest treatments with our FREE resources.

resources-shot_optimized
  • New treatment options
  • Learn from survivors
  • Veterans benefits & claims
  • File for your share of $30 billion in trust funds

– Or Call –
1-800-692-8608

Where can I

Learn about the latest treatments?

For over 15 years, we’ve provided the best FREE resources to mesothelioma patients and loved ones. Our resources include information on the leading treatment options and best doctors in your area, lessons learned from survivors, claims and benefits specifically for Veterans, and how to access your share of billions of dollars in trust fund money.

Learn about the latest treatments with our FREE resources.

resources-shot_optimized
  • New treatment options
  • Learn from survivors
  • Veterans benefits & claims
  • File for your share of $30 billion in trust funds

– Or Call –
1-800-692-8608

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