Sadly, mesothelioma is not usually diagnosed until the cancer has spread to the rest of the body. As a result, the prognosis for a mesothelioma patient is poor.
The American Cancer Society reports that the five-year relative survival rate for mesothelioma patients is approximately 10%. But there are treatment options available that can give you or your family hope.
Fighting mesothelioma will usually mean a surgical procedure to remove the tumor and drain any fluid accumulating in the diseased lung. There are many different types of surgical procedures related to mesothelioma. Be sure to ask your doctor for more information regarding the type of procedure if they recommend one.
In cases of pleural mesothelioma, radiation may be used after surgery to try and prevent the cancer from returning. This type of radiation is called adjuvant therapy, and it has been shown to improve the survival rate for patients who have early-stage mesothelioma.
Where pleural mesothelioma is advanced, and surgery is not possible, some people are given a combination of radiation and chemotherapy in an effort to slow growth and control the spread of the cancer. Radiation may also assist in reducing pain levels in those with advanced pleural mesothelioma.
Chemotherapy does not offer a cure for mesothelioma, but it is often used in treatment of the disease. Chemotherapy works by using powerful chemicals to kill cancer cells. Systemic chemotherapy may be helpful to shrink or slow the growth of a tumor in the chest that can’t be removed surgically.
Chemotherapy drugs are customarily given by injection into a vein. This depends on the type of the cancer, its location, and the specific drug used. Chemotherapy may also be delivered by mouth or into the muscle or skin. Sometimes, chemotherapy drugs are heated and placed directly into the part of the body where the mesothelioma is found.
When a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the doctor may recommend participation in a mesothelioma clinical trial that is testing the success rate of a new treatment. Clinical trials are performed only when it is believed that the treatment under review may help the patient.
Although new treatments offer great promise, they also carry some risk. It is unknown how well the treatment will work or what side effects it will cause. While most side effects go away after a short period of time, some are severe and may even be permanent. For this reason, patients should discuss the matter at length with their doctors.
Alternative medicine treatments such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, breath training and massage have not proved helpful in directly treating mesothelioma – but they do help many patients with controlling pain and achieving inner peace during what is understandably a very difficult time. For that reason, they can play an important role in a patient’s overall mesothelioma treatment strategy.