How Do Doctors Treat Mesothelioma?
Many treatment options can extend your life expectancy and improve quality. Your treatment plan will vary based on the location of the disease or the type of mesothelioma you have (pleural, peritoneal, or pericardial). Other factors that will affect your course of treatment include the cell type present in the tumors (epithelioid, sarcomatoid, or biphasic), the stage at which you are diagnosed (1–4), your gender, age, and overall health.
Curative vs. Palliative Care
Patients who have stage 1 or 2 mesothelioma are often candidates for curative therapy options. The aim of curative care is to eradicate as much of the disease as possible. Because these therapies can be aggressive — usually involving a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation — they’re generally only recommended for patients who are otherwise in good health.
For patients who have stage 3 or 4 or who are in poor health, doctors usually focus on palliative care. Palliative care aims to relieve the patient’s pain or discomfort and to ease the symptoms of the cancer, such as coughing and respiratory issues. Palliative care may also be combined with curative therapy options to reduce their side effects, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea or weight loss.
Veterans who were diagnosed with mesothelioma may be eligible for VA compensation. To find out if you qualify, speak with a patient advocate today.
Your Treatment plan
The disease is very rare, and because of this you should seek help from a doctor who has experience treating this illness. Your doctor, along with the rest of your cancer care team, will create a treatment plan tailored to your individual case.
There are many options for fighting the disease. These include the standard treatments, as well as other complementary therapies. Some patients are also eligible for clinical trials, which are used to test new and emerging methods. All of these options may be deployed as both curative and palliative care.
During mesothelioma surgery, your surgeon will usually attempt to remove as many tumors as possible. Although surgery is often a curative option, less-invasive surgical procedures may also be used as palliative methods to relieve pressure from the tumor or from built-up fluid.
Chemotherapy is primarily used to kill any cancer cells that remain after surgery. However, chemotherapy can also serve as a palliative option to slow the progress of tumors and prolong life expectancy.
Doctors use radiation therapy as both a curative and palliative options to help shrink cancer cells and stop or slow their spread to other areas of the body.
Also known as ‘biotherapy,’ immunotherapy is a popular type of targeted therapy that targets cancer cells while stimulating the immune system to help it fight the spread or recurrence of mesothelioma.
Many patients may be eligible to participate in clinical trials. Doctors and researchers conduct clinical trials and allow patients access to new and emerging therapies.
Most mesothelioma patients will receive a combination of the above treatment types. This is known as ‘multimodal therapy.’ These methods can be administered in three stages: neoadjuvant therapy, primary therapy, and adjuvant therapy.
- Neoadjuvant therapy occurs before the primary treatment. For mesothelioma, neoadjuvant therapy often includes radiation and/or chemotherapy.
- Primary therapy refers to the main treatment for a disease. For this disease, primary therapy is usually surgery.
- Adjuvant therapy occurs after primary treatment. Adjuvant therapy often includes chemotherapy and/or radiation.
Veterans with mesothelioma can take action without affecting their benefits.
The first step in any treatment plan is to find a qualified doctor and treatment facility. Veterans may seek treatment for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases at both VA hospitals and non-VA hospitals.