Mesothelioma Treatment Options
Here’s a very informative article on treatment options for malignant mesothelioma:
Treatment of malignant mesothelioma can be very difficult for a wide variety of reasons. First and foremost, mesothelioma can be difficult to correctly diagnose and may not show up in a patient for decades. This can create problems for treatment because with mesothelioma, as with all cancers, treatment is more difficult the longer the disease has been allowed to progress.
In addition to the difficulties created by delayed treatment of mesothelioma, the disease often does not respond to traditional cancer treatments, further complicating treatment. Also, the organs that are involved in mesothelioma cannot be partially or wholly removed usually, which means that surgical options can be extremely limited. Lastly, the fact that the majority of mesothelioma patients are men of advanced age, usually over 50, means that some more radical treatment approaches cannot be used because of declining health due to old age.
All of this means that even newly diagnosed mesothelioma patients sometimes are given a very bad chance of recovery by their doctors. Statistics are hard to come by, but British scientists suggest that 10% of newly diagnosed mesothelioma patients will live for at least three more years; Only 5% will live five years or longer. For patients in the first stage, 50% live for at least two more years. However doctors can be mistaken, and a diagnosis of mesothelioma is in no way always tantamount to a death sentence. Famed scientist Stephen Jay Gould lived with peritoneal mesothelioma for nearly 20 years. He eventually died from a different type of cancer.
There are four stages of malignant mesothelioma, which measure how far the disease has progressed. How a patient's mesothelioma is treated depends largely on which stage he or she is in when the disease is found.Patients with Stage I or milder Stage II mesothelioma are generally offered one or more of the conventional cancer treatments: surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
For early-stage patients, surgery for mesothelioma aims to cure the disease by literally cutting the cancer out of the patient's body. The most common type of surgery for pleural mesothelioma is a pleurectomy/decortication, which is where doctors remove all or part of the tissues lining the lungs and chest cavity.
Radiation and Chemotherapy
In addition to or instead of surgery, doctors may offer an early-stage mesothelioma patient chemotherapy, radiation or both. Radiation and chemotherapy are designed to kill the cancer cells without killing the patient.
Unfortunately, in order to kill the cancerous cells, these treatments often kill healthy cells as well. This is why cancer patients often lose their hair, have trouble eating and feel generally weak and sick during treatment. Doctors who prescribe chemotherapy or radiation may also suggest dietary supplements or other measures to control these symptoms.
Chemotherapy gives patients a drug designed to attack the cancer cells as they divide. The drug is swallowed or injected into the bloodstream regularly over a period of weeks or months, in cycles that give a patient some recovery time in between treatments. Patients can live at home and just go into a doctor's office for the treatment; sometimes, they can even have the treatments at home.
Radiation therapy seeks to kill the cancer cells with high-energy rays of radiation, such as x-rays, that stop them from growing. With external-beam radiation, patients will be subjected to directed rays of radiation directed as specific parts of the body affected by cancer. This treatment lasts about 30 minutes a day and is given in the exact same way each day over a period of weeks.
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