Mesothelioma: Tests, Diagnosis, and Treatments
Certain factors affect mesothelioma prognosis as well as your options for mesothelioma treatment. They include the following:
- The stage of the cancer, or the extent of cancer in the body. The stage is usually based on the size of the tumor, whether there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes, and whether cancer has spread beyond its original site.
- The size of the mesothelioma.
- Whether the mesothelioma can be removed completely by surgery.
- The amount of fluid in the chest or abdomen.
- Your age and general health.
- The type of mesothelioma cells.
- Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has already been treated and come back.
Treatment for mesothelioma depends on a number of factors, including those mentioned above. Three standard types of treatment are used: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Treating mesothelioma often involves a combination of two or all three.
Surgery. The four main surgeries used in mesothelioma treatment are:
- Wide local excision, which removes the cancer along with some of the healthy surrounding tissue.
- Pleurectomy and decortication, in which the surgeon removes part of the covering of the lungs, chest lining, and outside surface of the lungs.
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy, which involves removing one whole lung and part of the lining of the chest, the diaphragm, and lining of the sac around the heart.
- Pleurodesis, which involves using chemical or drugs to make the lung lining scar and stick to the lung. The scarring stops the buildup of fluid.
Radiation Therapy. This type of cancer treatment uses high-energy X-rays and other types of radiation to kill mesothelioma cells or keep them from growing. Radiation may be administered externally or internally. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into the area near the mesothelioma.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of mesothelioma cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy can be given by mouth, injected into a vein or muscle to enter the bloodstream and reach mesothelioma cells throughout the body, or it can be placed directly into the affected area of the body to mainly affect mesothelioma cells in that area. Sometimes doctors use more than one chemotherapy drug. This is called combination chemotherapy.