Is Mesothelioma Untreatable?
Many people believe that mesothelioma is untreatable. While it is true there is no cure for this cancer, there is a wide array of treatments available that can manage the disease and prolong the life of the cancer sufferer.
There are a number of factors that determine which treatment or treatments will be recommended by your oncologist if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
In case you missed it, check out our series on asbestos myths here.
What determines the treatment for your mesothelioma?
Cancer treatment protocols will vary by physician preference and your particular circumstances. In addition to the type of mesothelioma you have, what also matters significantly is the stage at which your illness is diagnosed.
Most cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed late-stage since the symptoms are mild at first and can present like other less-serious illnesses. The following factors will affect what treatments may be used to treat your mesothelioma:
- Stage of the cancer
- Size of the tumor(s)
- Presence and amount of fluid in the chest and/or abdomen
- Patient’s age, activity level, and general health
- Type of mesothelioma
What treatments are commonly used for mesothelioma?
There are a number of different treatments that may be used for your mesothelioma. Below is a list of the six treatments most commonly considered for mesothelioma patients:
Surgery may be an option to treat the cancer or to relieve pain. Surgery is most helpful if the cancer has not metastasized. Patients must be strong enough to recover from the procedure, so those in extreme late stages or poor overall health may not be candidates for surgery. Surgery may involve removal of a lung, the lining of the lung, lymph nodes, tumors, or any combination of these. Surgery is usually combined with other treatments to increase efficacy.
Chemotherapy aims to reduce the size of tumors and kill off cancerous cells through the use of chemicals. In addition to targeting cancer cell growth, chemo may improve quality of life and improve symptoms. Chemotherapy is often a primary treatment for patients not eligible for surgery. Chemo may also slow or reduce the chances for metastasis (spread) of the cancer. Chemotherapy drugs may be administered intravenously (through a vein) to circulate through the entire body. Alternately, they may be administered directly to the area of the body affected.
Radiation targets cancer cells and tumors and may cause fewer side effects than chemotherapy. Radiation is commonly used in all stages of mesothelioma and can be used in combination with surgery or chemotherapy – or both. Radiation can be helpful to relieve pain associated with symptoms and may improve life expectancy. Radiation cannot cure or eliminate cancer but can shrink cells and can be very helpful as a palliative (pain relieving) measure.
Multimodal treatment (combination of treatments)
Multimodal therapy means a combination of therapies. If surgery is chosen, radiation and/or chemotherapy may also be administered to increase efficacy of treatment or reduce symptoms or treat pain or reduce the rate at which the cancer spreads. Emerging therapies such as clinical trials may also be combined with these other therapies for some mesothelioma patients as part of a comprehensive cancer treatment plan.
Clinical trials allow some patients access to the latest treatment options that are not in common usage or that are pending final FDA approval.
Clinical trials are pharmaceutical or other treatment studies still in the research phase but that have been given the green-light for testing on human patients.
Clinical trials are important to mesothelioma and other cancer research because it furthers the search for a cure while providing alternative treatments for patients.
Palliative treatment may be used alone or in combination with any of these other treatments and aims to manage both the symptoms of mesothelioma and any associated pain. Patients with late stage mesothelioma are more likely to need palliative measures. These can increase life expectancy while improving quality of life. Palliative measures may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, clinical trials and/or pharmaceuticals.
Contact Bergman Draper Oslund
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you do not have to wait – and should not wait – until treatment begins or is completed to contact an attorney to find out about your rights to compensation for the asbestos exposure that caused your illness.
The team at Bergman Draper Oslund specializes in mesothelioma claims and we have a track record of winning significant settlements for asbestos victims. We have won more than $700 million and are ready to fight for your rights. Call (888) 647-6007 or click for a free case evaluation.