Mesothelioma is lung cancer that is caused due to exposure to asbestos. The symptoms of this disease are very serious and make the patients feel very much uncomfortable. In these modern times, there are several forms of treatments available to help in curing the patient of the disease.
How is the Course of Treatment Decided?
The kind of treatment given to a patient depends upon several factors, like the tumor location, disease stage, age, health of the patient, whether the tumor has spread or not, and if so, then to what extent.
This cancer can take several years to be completely cured, and it is even difficult to detect if it is present in the first place. The patients who get diagnosed and treated in the early phases have a better chance of getting cured completely, but the rates of survival are low for those who’re diagnosed at advanced stages. The prognosis is also affected by the patient’s age and overall health conditions.
Common Treatment Choices
The conventional mesothelioma treatment methods are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Surgery eradicates cancer from the body, which is dangerous. Radiation therapy makes use of high energy rays, normally X-rays to destroy the cancerous cells. Chemotherapy makes use of powerful drugs, factually poisons to kill the tumor.
Surgeries Can Help
Surgery, as a form of treatment for mesothelioma, can be done by pleurodesis or large local excision. This local excision is a type of procedure, which is used to eradicate a small part of the diseased tissue with few parts of undiseased, normal tissues. This kind of surgery is usually done to skin lesions and on the breast. On the other hand, pleurodesis is a surgical process wherein artificial obliteration of pleural space is done. This is performed to stop the re-incidence of pleural effusion or pneumothorax caused by mesothelioma.
Chemicals can also be used for performing pleurodesis without surgical interference. Another surgical process that doctors recommend is thoracentesis, where the fluid is removed from the lungs using a thin needle.
Radiation therapy for treating the disease may be carried out externally or internally. The external radiation method calls for external beam radiation. In the internal radiation method, the source is embedded within the patient.
Radiation is especially useful against tumors that segment quickly such as in the case of mesothelioma. Radiation therapy is often advised when the health of the patient is too weak for chemotherapy or surgery. This method has the least side effects amongst the three and is usually more bearable than chemotherapy. Radiation is usually used in combination with one more kind of treatment as an in complementary capacity to an already-existing regimen of chemotherapy.
Other Chemo Drugs for Treatment
The next form of treatment that we will be discussing is the use of chemicals in the form of drugs to kill the tumor cells. These drugs may be taken orally via other administration routes like into the spinal column directly. Alimta (or pemetrexed) is the preferred drug for treating mesothelioma. It is taken in a 21-day cycle.
However, pemetrexed is not used alone but blended with a platinum-oriented compound known as cisplatin for synergism. The patients who are put on this drug will be anticipated to also consume vitamin B12 and folic acid to minimize the drugs’ side effects.
The other chemo drugs are onconase, vinorelbine, and gemcitabine. The usual side effects associated with these drugs are vomiting, nausea, constipation, decreased count of white blood cells, and fever, making the patient more susceptible to depression and infections.
The advancements in medical technology have been assisting the physicians and cancer specialists to lay the groundwork for a better cure.