Different types of treatments are available for patients with malignant mesothelioma. The standard treatments are treatments that are currently being used. The other treatment options are being tested in clinical trials. A clinical trial is a research study conducted by doctors and offered to patients with mesothelioma. A clinical trial is meant to help improve the current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the current treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.
Three types of current treatment being used:
- Wide local excision: This surgery is performed on an area of the body to remove the cancer and some of the healthy tissue around it.
- Pleurectomy and decortication: This type of surgery is removal of part of the covering of the lungs, the lining of the chest, and part of the outside surface of the lungs.
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy: This surgery is the removal of one whole lung and part of the lining of the chest, the diaphragm, and the lining of the sac around the heart.
- Pleurodesis: This is a surgical procedure that uses chemicals or drugs to make a purposeful scar in the space between the layers of the pleura, or the membrane covering the chest cavity. Fluid found in the space is first drained from the space using a catheter or chest tube and the chemical or drug is put into the space. The scarring works by stopping the build-up of fluid in the pleural cavity.
Even if the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left. Treatment given after surgery, to increase the chances of a cure, is called adjuvant therapy.
- Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation which is aimed or directed toward the area of the cancer inside the body. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into the body near the cancer. The type of therapy given, External or Internal radiation therapy, depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing or multiplying. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth in pill form or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the entire body (systemic chemotherapy).
When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those specific areas (regional chemotherapy). Combination chemotherapy is the use of more than one anticancer drug. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.