Mesothelioma Treatment

Mesothelioma is a complicated disease, an aggressive and lethal form of cancer caused by human exposure to asbestos. Specifically, mesothelioma is caused by tiny asbestos fibers that can be inadvertently inhaled or ingested. These tough fibers lodge in the mesothelium, a membrane of thin tissue that protects various organs and surfaces within the body. Eventually they will cause the generation of malignant cells which reproduce quickly and uncontrollably, launching the development of malignant mesothelioma.
Variables for Mesothelioma Treatment
Treatment for mesothelioma is dictated by a number of variables. An oncologist or pulmonary specialist who has diagnosed a patient with mesothelioma designs a program that will be most effective with:
• The location or type of the disease
• The stage of the disease
• The overall health of the patient
Probably the most important decision in devising a treatment plan for mesothelioma surgery. If the disease is diagnosed early enough and if the patient is healthy enough, surgery may be performed in an attempt to remove much or all of the malignant tissue. This is the most aggressive treatment choice, because it is a major effort to halt the growth of the disease by removing damaged tissue and the malignant cells that are causing the damage. Surgery is the first step in attempting to “cure” a case of mesothelioma.
Nearly all mesothelioma patients are over the age of fifty and many are in their sixties or seventies. People of this age are not always in the best of health; heart problems are often a factor as are respiratory ailments. A lifelong smoker with COPD, for example, is not a good candidate for pleural mesothelioma surgery, which often involves the removal of a portion or all of one lung.
Physicians must also consider the degree to which the disease has advanced. Malignant mesothelioma usually develops as a diffuse form of cancer; small malignant masses develop across the face of the tissue where the disease has developed. Surgical resection of diffuse tumors is difficult because it requires removal of a large section of tissue or of an organ.
Generally, the disease must still be “localized;” that is, the malignant tissue must be in one area and must not have spread to lymph nodes or other areas of the body. In the case of malignant pleural mesothelioma, cancer of the lung lining, the disease must still be on just one side of the body, affecting just one lung.
Treatment options both for patients who have had surgery and those for which surgery is not an option nearly always includes chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This treatment mode uses radiation to kill cancerous cells; it is perhaps the oldest non-surgical treatment for malignancy in Western medicine. Radiation can be effective in killing cancer cells but it is not a very precise technology, so the radiation beams tend to kill healthy cells adjacent to the malignant cells on which it is targeted.
Because of the limitations for radiation – precision and the depth to which it can be effective – a surgeon performing a resection procedure on a mesothelioma patient may perform a radiation treatment while the patient is still in surgery and the location of the disease is exposed. However radiation treatments are included in virtually any treatment program for mesothelioma, whether surgery is involved or not.
There is a lot going on in mesothelioma chemotherapy research; the various types of chemotherapy have evolved as physicians have learned about the types of malignant cells that are present with mesothelioma. Cancer cells have various designs which means they have different strengths and weaknesses. There are two types of cells associated with mesothelioma and they react to different types of treatments. With increasing frequency, mesothelioma diagnoses are showing cases with both types of cells – a condition called biphasic mesothelioma.
There have been and continue to be clinical trials that combine chemotherapy drugs to find more effective treatments for mesothelioma cancer cells. There are also a few new drugs in the test phase that are specifically designed for mesothelioma cancer cells. The reports on these trials usually consider them a success if the tested treatment modality extends the life of the patient by a period of a few months. That fact illustrates the level at which non-surgical treatment of mesothelioma is currently performing.
New Approaches to Mesothelioma Treatment
Medical technology is moving just as fast as consumer oriented technology, and the treatment concepts for mesothelioma are no exception. Because mesothelioma is a relatively rare disease compared to other forms of cancer, the therapies being tested are also focused on more common malignancies. But the focus of these mesothelioma treatment concepts is generally seeking new and more productive ways to destroy malignant cells and/or stop their reproduction.
The concepts under study for cancer treatment are startlingly different. In some ways they resemble engineering challenges, looking for the most effective way to cause or bring about a cellular reaction. Among them:
• Immunotherapy
• Photodynamic Therapy
• Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
• Gene Therapy
There are also new drugs in development that are targeted at the types of cells found in mesothelioma. Unfortunately, the time of survival after diagnosis for mesothelioma leaves little room to wait for new developments. However the study and work being put into developing more effective mesothelioma therapy today is going to benefit future mesothelioma victims and individuals with other types of malignancies. Contact us today to get Free asbestos & mesothelioma legal help.

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