Life After Meso, Part III: What Are My Options for Mesothelioma Treatment?

If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma, you have come to the right place. This three-part series, entitled ‘Life After Meso,’ answers some of the most pressing and pertinent questions on the minds of those who have been recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, while also providing helpful information for loved ones.

Part III outlines some common traditional treatment methods for mesothelioma.

In the previous installments of our series, we explored some of the all-natural mesothelioma treatmentoptions. Now, we will discuss three of the most common traditional modalities and also give a brief overview of some newer, experimental methods currently in the clinical testing phase.

Remember, as you read, that determining which treatment method or methods are right for you is subject to a number of factors—including the stage, severity and location of your illness, as well as your age and overall physical health. While you are encouraged to research potential treatment options on your own, it is also very important to discuss those options with your doctors and make decisions regarding your course of mesothelioma treatment in conjunction with your attending medical team.

Chemotherapy—also sometimes called systemic therapy—involves the administering of powerful drugs, either orally or intravenously, with the intended effect of killing the cancer cells inside the patient’s body. Though perhaps the most popular cancer treatment method, chemo is known for being particularly harsh—often causing significant and serious side effects. It is frequently used in conjunction with other treatments, like surgery.

Only approximately one in five patients with mesothelioma undergo surgery to remove the tumor and, sometimes, surrounding tissue of the affected organ. One reason for this relatively low statistic is that the surgery is long, complicated and risky. Additionally, it is limited in effectiveness as often as 80 percent of the time—with tumors frequently returning.

Another common conventional mesothelioma treatment method is radiation therapy, which uses powerful radioactive rays to combat and kill cancer cells in the affected organs. Because mesothelioma often affects the lungs or heart, it can be difficult to deliver these powerful rays without otherwise harming the patient, making this form of treatment somewhat precarious. Newer, more precise methods for applying radiation are offering the potential for safer application in mesothelioma sufferers.

One of the experimental mesothelioma treatment methods, currently being tested at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, involves the use of viral agents to attack and kill cancer cells. Currently offered only to participants of mesothelioma clinical trials, this unique form of treatment—known as immunotherapy—is being heavily researched at institutes around the globe and seems to offer perhaps the most solid promise for treatment success seen in years.

Additionally, various new and investigational drugs are being manufactured and tested for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. One such drug—pazopanib, currently being tested in a large-scale, international clinical trial—is designed to destroy cancer cells by blocking and preventing the growth of new blood vessels within them.

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