Chemotherapy Remains Best of Mesothelioma Treatment Options

by Ben on January 6, 2010

Once someone has been diagnosed with mesothelioma it is imperative to start treating the cancer as quickly as possible. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and takes its time to surface, sometimes up to 30-40 years. In the early days of this cancer surfacing survival was in most cases up to a year or so. Now, with a lot of mesothelioma treatment options, three-quarters of the patients with pleural mesothelioma survive five years or longer.

Dependent on the staging and development of the malignant cells a treatment will be chosen. While there is no cure for the cancer, treatment may improve the quality of life and extend that life with five years or more, if it is successful. Mesothelioma treatment options are surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and heated intra-operative intra-peritoneal chemotherapy.

Surgery alone is not very successful. The cancerous lining will be removed as much as possible, of which pleurectomy, the removal of the lining of the chest, is most common. After a successful operation a radiation therapy can be started. Like surgery radiation alone is not very effective. The radiation is considered a consolidative therapy. In combination with chemotherapy thereafter, chances of survival for at least five years are best.

Chemotherapy – whether or not in combination with surgery – gives the best results, as the drugs travel through the blood veins, killing each and every cancer cell it encounters. The drugs are either taken as pills or by the needle, in the vein or the muscle. If the patient has pleural mesothelioma, the chemo may be administered straight away into the chest, thus avoiding the “travel” through the body. There is still research going on to find out when it is the best moment to start the chemotherapy and how many cycles to administer.

Most people are afraid of the side effects of chemotherapy. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, they are all part of the side effects of the treatment, for most patients that is. The severity of the side effects differs from person to person, and there are relief medications for those as well. Since the results are very good, chemotherapy is almost always considered.

One of the other mesothelioma treatment options is heated intra-operative intra-peritoneal chemotherapy. That’s a mouthful of terms indeed. This chemotherapy follows right after as much of the tumor as possible has been removed from the abdomen. The surgeon administers the drug that is heated between 40 and 48?C into the body and leaves it there for 60 to 120 minutes. After that it will be drained. With this therapy a selection of highly concentrated drugs can be used. The heating permits the drugs to be better absorbed by the tissue.

The so-called immunotherapy is still in an early stage of research. With this therapy the body itself is supposed to fight the cancer cells. At this moment there are only clinical studies done and a more wide trial is suspended while the patients suffered from intolerable side effects.

As with all cancer research scientists are always looking for new treatments to make life more livable and prolong the life expectancy. Therefore you should always look for the newest publications on this topic as this or any other article may already be outdated by the time you read it.

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