If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with asbestos related cancer, or mesothelioma, finding the best treatment becomes a top priority. However, understanding a complex medical condition can be difficult, especially with a rare disease such as mesothelioma. Making matters worse is the relatively low survival rate of patients diagnosed with the disease.
While your cancer treatment decisions should be made under the guidance of a physician familiar with the specific details of your condition, the following can serve as an overview to familiarize yourself with some of the options available.
You have choices in mesothelioma treatment
There are many options for treating mesothelioma, and as research progresses, new treatments are being developed all the time. Here are three of the most commonly used asbestos cancer treatment options and some of the pros and cons of each.
Surgery is often the first choice for people with asbestos cancer in its earliest stages as removing the source of the cancer may help with other treatment options. However since asbestos related disease often manifests itself in the lining of the lung cavity, the surgical option can involve the removal of an entire lung or just a portion of the lung. This is a very invasive procedure and can have many types of inherent risks and as such, can be difficult for patients in poor health and is usually reserved for those whose health is stronger.
Radiation therapy was not a popular treatment for mesothelioma because it traditionally could only target specific areas, and asbestos cancer usually does not manifest itself in that way. However, recent advancements have made radiation therapy a more viable option for mesothelioma patients as lasers can be aimed more accurately.
Using a concentrated beam to target cancerous cells, radiation tries to destroy those cells so that the cancer will not spread. Radiation therapy can be used in conjunction with other therapies including surgery.
Chemotherapy is another option for asbestos cancer patients, and can be used at all stages of the cancer although it is not curative. Chemotherapy can be used to shrink tumors in preparation for surgery, or after surgery, to attack those diseased cells that were not removed during the procedure.
Recent trials are investigating a different method of delivering the drugs directly to the lungs to improve the effectiveness of this treatment.
While these are three of the most common therapies offered for patients with mesothelioma, they are not a comprehensive list of the available options. New types of treatment including photodynamic therapies, targeted drugs with fewer side effects, and blood testing, are being refined and brought to market. Consult with your mesothelioma specialist to determine the optimal treatment for yourself or your loved ones.