Standard Mesothelioma Treatments

Standard Mesothelioma Treatments
When determining which treatment type is best for the patient, mesothelioma doctors will consider mesothelioma type, cell type and patient characteristics. The patient’s age and overall health may limit what treatment options are viable. The stage of cancer is also an influential factor. If the disease is localized, more treatment options are available than if spreading has occurred.
For patients with an early-stage mesothelioma diagnosis, surgery can be used to remove all or most of the tumor(s). Depending on the tumor location, surgery may include removing the mesothelial lining, one or more lymph nodes, or part or all of a lung or other organ. Radical mesothelioma surgeries that have shown success include a pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) and extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP).                                                            

Chemotherapy drugs work by attacking fast-growing cells, such as cancer cells. Often used in conjunction with surgery, chemotherapy can kill any remaining mesothelioma cells and help prevent recurrence.

Radiation Therapy
Through the use of targeted radiation, mesothelioma cells can be killed after surgery, or in situations where tumors are causing symptoms like pain. Two primary types of radiation for mesothelioma include external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

In many cases, mesothelioma specialists will recommend a multimodal approach, which combines surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, or even emerging treatments in some cases. In various studies, multimodal treatment has been shown to be more effective than any of the individual treatments alone. In particular, surgery combined with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), a heated chemotherapy wash applied directly to the abdominal cavity, has demonstrated around a 50% survival rate or higher for peritoneal mesothelioma patients in recent clinical studies. With aggressive multimodal plans, patients should be aware of all potential treatment side effects.

When conducting a multimodal treatment plan, doctors will refer to treatments as neoadjuvant, primary or adjuvant. The three types of treatments are determined based on the order that they are performed.

Neoadjuvant therapy: Used before the primary treatment to shrink or reduce tumor size (commonly radiation or chemotherapy).

Primary treatment: The main treatment type, used to remove as much of the cancer as possible (commonly surgery).

Adjuvant therapy: Treatment performed after the primary treatment to kill remaining cancer cells (commonly chemotherapy).

Mesothelioma Doctors and Cancer Centers
Not all physicians have experience treating mesothelioma cancer. There are mesothelioma doctors around the United States who have experience treating the disease with extensive knowledge regarding the best treatment options, new treatment advances and palliative care to potentially extend patient survival and improve quality of life. Some mesothelioma experts specialize in particular types of the disease. Thoracic oncologists specialize in cancers of the chest with expertise specific to pleural mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma. Some specialize particularly in peritoneal mesothelioma.