Being diagnosed with mesothelioma is understandably met with disbelief, shock and dread, but that soon gives way to investigating the disease and looking at what is going on in the world of mesothelioma therapies and treatments.
There are several treatment options for mesothelioma, although none have been capable of curing cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Conventional methods used for treating have not proved successful and the survival rate of patients after treatment has been below twelve months.
Earlier, treatment was often aggressive in the form of surgeries; however, a lot of progress has been made in the medical field and surgery is now combined with chemotherapy or/and radiation therapy. There are several other treatment options available as well as a whole lot of research going on in this field.
Surgery by itself has proven to be unsuccessful, which involves a pleurectomy, where the chest lining is taken out. A not-so-common surgery involves taking out the inside lining of the chest, the pericardium and the hemi-diaphragm are also taken out, and this is known as the extrapleural pneumonectomy. Both are major surgeries requiring long periods of anesthesia, and people with heart problems or poor lung capacity are not considered good candidates for these surgeries.
Radiation is often performed after surgery on the entire hemi-thorax and is given along with chemotherapy. Radiation is the method of using x-rays to kill the cancer cells. This has a good success rate with the extension of the survival time and some patients have been seen to survive even as long as more than five years.
However, radiation without surgery was not proven to be successful as the amount of radiation that is required then would be highly toxic; although, low doses of radiation may help shrink the size of the tumor and provide some pain relief.
Chemotherapy drugs are given to kill the cells and stop them from growing. These drugs are either given orally or by injection. In spite of several combinations of chemotherapy drugs having been tried, they have not proved to be successful in extending the survival rate by long. However, according to physicians, chemotherapy in conjunction with radiation and surgery has the potential of improving survival rates.
Apart from these treatments, there have been a lot of new therapies that have come up, such as immunotherapy, heat therapy, gene therapy and photodynamic therapy, which have not done much for the cause of mesothelioma.
However, a recent mesothelioma research is said to reveal promising results. It has been noticed by researchers that using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs combined with cisplatin, which is a chemotherapy drug, has shown to have an anti-tumoral effect on the mesothelioma cells. The NSAID that was said to be used with this study is piroxicam.
The study that was published in the Journal of Transitional Medicine says, “treatment with piroxicam or CDDP alone altered the cell cycle phase distribution as well as the expression of some cell cycle regulatory proteins in both cell lines and these effects were increased, even if in a not completely overlapping manner, after treatment with the association of piroxicam and CDDP.”
Mesothelioma is a painful cancer and physicians say that patients suffering from this need supportive treatment to control the shortness of breath and pain. This may be the only treatment available for patients on whom surgery cannot be done for various reasons or others who may not wish to undergo surgery. Supportive treatment could also include low doses of radiation therapy that relieves the pain as well as medications. There are several reasons why mesothelioma patients suffer from shortness of breath, including pleural effusion, which involves collection of fluid.
Physicians say that in this scenario, when there is no sure cure for mesothelioma, the only thing that a sufferer could do is take the best possible medical care available and target the disease. All the treatment options available can be discussed with the physician who will then decide on the most suitable treatment for the patient, based on the type of tumor and the stage of tumor.
It is also advisable to join one of the several mesothelioma support groups, as they certainly provide the emotional support that cancer patients need and help them with coping with the disease the best they can.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, we highly recommend you contact a mesothelioma attorney.