On this page you will find information about the treatments that are currently the standard of care for mesothelioma. The phrase “standard of care” means that these are the best treatments known to the medical community at this time. As a patient makes decisions about their treatment plan it is recommended that they also take into consideration the possibility of clinical trials. A clinical trial is a study by researchers to test a new type of treatment. The goal of these trials is to learn if it is a safe and possibly a better form of treatment than the current standard of care.
In the field of cancer care, different doctors from different specific disciplines will often work as a team to create a treatment regimen that will be effective for the patient. A name for this is a multidisciplinary team. Cancer care teams will also typically include other health care workers like physician assistants, social workers, counselors, dietitians, oncology nurses and other professionals. With this form of cancer there are two common types. Pleural Mesothelioma and Peritoneal Mesothelioma. These two types come with different treatment options. When making the decision on treatments the medical team considers the type and stage of cancer, the side effects that the patient might experience, and the patient’s preference for treatment and health. One of the reasons for the larger healthcare teams is to help patients treat side effects and symptoms which is vital to the overall health of the patient. When discussing your treatment options with your mesothelioma doctor, make sure to learn about what the goals of the specific treatments are and what your experience will be during and after the treatment. Unfortunately, mesothelioma cancer cannot be cure. Researchers and scientists are doing everything they can to figure out how to target and remove the asbestos created tumors. So when you speak to your doctor about the various treatment options and complementary therapies, be sure to discuss which treatment will be the best to improve your mesothelioma prognosis.
This form of treatment uses drugs to destroy the cancer cells. They generally focus on stopping the cancer cells’ ability to continue to grow and divide. Chemotherapy is administered by a medical oncologist, which is a specialist in treating cancer through medication. Systemic chemotherapy goes into the bloodstream in order to destroy cancer cells throughout the body. The side effects of this medicinal treatment are dependent on the individual and the dosage of the drug. The side effects include increased risk of infection, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, loss of appetite, fatigue and diarrhea. Once treatment is finished these side effects generally go away.
Chemotherapy, also known as systemic therapy, is administered either orally or by infusion to kill any cancer cells that are in the body, and there are a variety of medications. Although it is not curative it has proven to help increase the survival rate. Chemotherapy is also used to reduce pain and improve the patient’s quality of life.
Radiation therapy is treatment that is used in combination with surgery and chemotherapy. Sometimes it is used alone to kill cancerous cells, manage tumors and it help to stop cancer from spreading along the path of the incision.
Recent data shows that surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation together helps to kill cancer cells. Although oncologists have been using radiation treatment to help treat cancer for many years, technology has made it a more refined treatment. Radiation directed at tumors work by stunting the growth of tumors without some of the other serious side effects caused by chemotherapy.
Another great description of Radiation Therapy:
Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or x-rays to destroy the mesothelioma cancer cells. The specialist that provides this treatment for cancer is called a radiation oncologist. External-beam radiation is the most common form of radiation treatment. In this mesothelioma treatment the radiation is given from outside of the body with a machine. The side effects to this treatment include mild skin reactions, upset stomach, loose bowel movements, and tiredness. These are usually temporary side effects.
With surgery the goal is to remove the tumor and in the process some surrounding healthy tissue is removed in an operation. The operation is performed by a surgical oncologist who specializes in specifically treating cancer through surgery. The surgeries for mesothelioma are different for Pleural and Peritoneal mesothelioma. For the former, radiation is preferred due to the because of the possibility of damaging the lung.
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