In order to make the best decision regarding a patients health, his or her medical team will take into account the patients age, general health, stage of the mesothelioma cancer cells, and obviously his or her personal wishes.
In Stage 1 mesothelioma is present in the right or left pleura. It may have spread into the lung, pericardium or diaphragm on the same side but not the lymph nodes. While mesothelioma is rarely detected while still in stage I, if preventative measures are taken by those who believe they may have been exposed to asbestos, early detection is possible and may increase the survival rate for those patients.
Treatment may include:
- Surgery to remove affected sections of the pleura, lung part of the diaphragm and part of the lining around the heart.
- Surgery to remove the pleura and the tissue near it, done to relieve symptoms only – not to cure the disease.
- Radiation to relieve symptoms when surgery is not an option due the patient’s weakened health.
- Use of a clinical trial where new medications are being tested by patient volunteer to find better cures.
In Stage II or III it’s understood that a cure is not possible and treatments are done to make the patient comfortable. However, the patients’ physical and mental states should always be taken into account before deciding upon a course of treatment. Any treatment method that has the potential to do more harm in weakening the patient’s physical state should be reconsidered. Treatment may sometimes only be administered in order to increase the patient’s quality of life, instead of attempting to slow the cancerous cells. Treatment may include:
- Tharacentesis or paracentesis drains the fluid from around the heart or abdomen helps to reduce pain
- Radiation or chemotherapy to help reduce symptoms
- Chemotherapy or radioactive drugs – injected directly into the pleural space. This can destroy some cancer cells and will slow down the fluid build up. These procedures however can be difficult for a patient suffering from stage II or III mesothelioma to handle, and should be discussed at length with the patients’ medical team.
In Stage IV treatment is done to keep the patient as comfortable as possible.
- Chemotherapy or radiation can be given but only if the patient fully understands the side effects. It might not be the best option as it is an end stage of cancer.
- Supportive care patients with advanced staged mesothelioma require a strong supportive network, usually requiring more than one person is capable of giving.
- Pain medication to make patient as comfortable as possible
- Clinical trials new medications to try.
Facing a disease like mesothelioma is difficult for anyone, it’s important to talk over any mesothelioma treatment program with your family and physician. Additionally, decision making in this difficult time can be hard on you and your family without the proper tools. More information regarding cancer treatment is available to support you and your family upon request.