Knowhow-Now Article

What Is Mesothelioma Cancer and How Can it Be Treated?

By Andrew Wilson

Andrew Wilson (author and infopreneur)

Mesothelioma is a malignant form of cancer that targets the lining membranes of the chest, the abdomen or the lungs and the heart. Common symptoms include difficulty in breathing, rapid and unexplained weight loss, lower back pain, vomiting or nausea, lumps along the lung or chest areas, and even abdominal pain. Contracting the disease is attributed to asbestos exposure and may manifest even years or decades after inhalation or ingestion.

Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Doctors have varying recommendations in the general management and treatment of mesothelioma depending on where the cancer is found. Other factors to be considered include what stage the cancer is and how advanced it is, as well as the overall health and age of the person suffering from it.

The sad fact about this ailment is that detection usually occurs when the cancer cells have largely invaded most of the organ already. In addition, mesothelioma is considered a highly aggressive form of cancer, which gives patients very slim chances of recovery or cure.

mesothelioma lung disease

Listed below are treatment and management options for this disease.

1. Surgery, where the malignant tumors will be removed through surgical procedures. This option is only applicable when the cancer is in its infantile stages. This option may remove the tumor totally and stop the cancer altogether or it may just reduce the chances of the cancer to spread aggressively. De-bulking may also be done where a large extent of the tumor is removed if total removal is not possible.

When is surgery recommended? Usually, doctors assess the case by the degree of fluid accumulation within the lung or chest area, which makes it difficult for the patient to breathe. Using a tube or a catheter, fluid is drained out and medication may be prescribed to control fluid build-up. Drugs like talc powder or bleomycin are placed between the two layers of tissue lining the lungs to make the two pleura stick together, thus minimizing fluid build-up. This aggressive attempt to minimize or prevent fluid build-up is termed pleurodesis.

Another surgical procedure is called pleurectomy or peritonectomy whereby the lining surrounding the lungs or abdominal cavity are removed in order to minimize the symptoms of the cancer. Removal of the infected portion of the lung may also be done which will make the patient feel more comfortable and lessen the pain for sometime. This procedure should be followed by radiotherapy.

2. Chemotherapy, where tumor cells are shrunk and their growth stunted. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy and adjuvant chemotherapy (pre- and post-surgical chemotherapy, respectively) may also aid in removing tumor much easier.

3. Radiotherapy targets or kills malignant cells through radiation. It is primarily done to stop metastasis right after biopsy or surgery.

4. Natural Management. In cases where the cancer has severely advanced, surgical removal of the tumor is impossible and the only option left is to control the disease, explore remedies to halt its progression and make the patient feel as comfortable as possible.

doctor looking at lung cancer on an xray

Doctors and medical professionals managing a patient with this type of cancer should make it a point to explain thoroughly to the patient and the family/caregivers all the possible options and remedies available so that they can very well decide what option to take.

It may be human nature to fight aggressively and cling desperately for dear life, but patients need to understand that doing so may just result to enduring side effects and may even lead to emotional issues. As such, it may be wise and apt to concentrate simply in improving and bettering the patient’s quality of life for the remaining time.

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