Understanding Your Options: A Mesothelioma Treatment Guide
The following mesothelioma treatment guide is designed to introduce victims of this rare and aggressive form of cancer to some of their most relevant options for combating the disease. It is structured not just to help patients understand what treatments are available to them but how these methods are divided into various subgroups-which help doctors determine which treatment is right for each individual patient and his or her unique illness.
Remember that your medical care team should always be your first and foremost advisors in making decisions regarding treatment and general care; the following guide is intended as an educational tool only.
Basics of Cancer Treatment-Goals and Curative vs. Palliative Measures
After receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma, your doctor will help you formulate a plan in which there will likely be at least one (and very possibly more than one) of the following treatment goals:
- –Reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life
- -Slowing the growth or spread of cancer cells in order to prolong life
- -Eradicating cancer cells to induce a state of remission
These goals can essentially be broken down into two groups: curative measures and palliative care. The former describes treatment efforts aimed at eliminating cancer from the body, while the latter describes treatment efforts not intended to remove the cancer but rather decrease patient discomfort and pain for an improved quality of life during his or her remaining time. Palliative care is often administered in hospice settings and is generally reserved for the terminally ill.
Treatment Modalities-Traditional and Experimental
Your doctor will serve as your mesothelioma treatment guide-helping you to navigate the various forms of treatment and understand which might be right for you. There are basically two categories of treatments: those that fall within the scope of traditional or conventional medicine and those that are considered either experimental and/or alternative in nature.
The three traditional treatment methods for mesothelioma cancer are:
- –Chemotherapy-which uses various drugs to attack cancer cells
- -Radiation therapy-which uses forms of radiation to attack cancer cells
- -Surgery-which involves the removal of malignancies and possibly surrounding tissue containing cancer cells
Alternative treatments can be either homeopathic or all-natural techniques that have not been widely tested or proven effective but that may be used in various parts of the world with some evident history of at least partial success. These may include: the ingestion of certain herbs purported to have anti-cancer properties, adherence to a specific diet and/or regimen of nutritional supplements, use of one or more relaxation techniques and/or breath training.
Alternative or experimental techniques also include new and emerging treatment methods that are currently still being tested at the research level and have not yet received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for general public use. Patients have the option of signing up for mesothelioma clinical trials in order to gain access to such treatments, and for many, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Your mesothelioma treatment guide can help you determine which trials you may be eligible for and whether participating in one is the right choice for your particular condition.