If diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to start treatment as soon as possible. After diagnosis your physician should work with you and your family to determine the best course of treatment. The mesothelioma treatment options available are determined by the stage of the cancer, tumor locations and the patient’s health, age and history among other factors.
There are three standard treatment options available for mesothelioma cancer victims including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Many times your physician will recommend a strategy to combine two or more of these options, called a multimodal approach, to combat the aggressive cancer.
If a mesothelioma patient is a candidate for surgery it can be a very effective treatment for fighting the disease. There are several surgical options used for mesothelioma including two common procedures, thoracentesis and pleurodesis, and a more radical procedure called pleurectomy. These procedures are used to remove fluid from the pleural space around the lungs, to prevent further fluid buildup and to remove the lining of the lungs and portions of the lungs.
Surgery is often used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible and to relieve symptoms of mesothelioma.
Chemotherapy is a mesothelioma treatment used to prevent cancer cells from dividing and growing. Chemotherapy is the most commonly used treatment for mesothelioma as it can relieve mesothelioma symptoms and improve quality of life as it combats the aggressive cancer. Research has shown that some chemotherapy drugs can prolong the life of mesothelioma patients.
Chemotherapy drugs prescribed for mesothelioma are generally injected intravenously at three week intervals. The most commonly used drugs include Alimta (premetrexed), Raltitrexed, Cisplatin and Carboplatin.
As these drugs combat cancer cells, healthy cells can sometimes be affected causing unwanted side effects. Many patients report little to no trouble with side effects, while others suffer from nausea and difficulty sleeping. Mesothelioma patients should discuss side effects with their physician and families when deciding whether to undergo chemotherapy. Your physician may prescribe medication and vitamins to manage the side effects of treatment.
Chemotherapy may be used in combination with radiation as well as before, during or after mesothelioma surgery.
Radiation is used to help relieve mesothelioma symptoms and to reduce the size of cancerous tumors. This treatment uses a localized dose of radiation to target cancer cells, affecting their ability to grow and divide. Many mesothelioma physicians will combine radiation with chemotherapy and/or surgery.
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