Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that forms in the membranes that surround and protect your internal organs. The most common form of mesothelioma is malignant pleural mesothelioma, which forms in the lining around your lungs. There is no reliable cure. However, there are several types of treatments doctors can use to slow the disease and improve your quality of life.
Typically, the earlier doctors detect the cancer, the more aggressively they can combat it. As the cancer spreads, some treatments become less viable. This makes early detection critically important. If you experience any of the common symptoms, you want to make sure your doctor understands your history of asbestos exposure.
6 mesothelioma treatment approaches
As the National Cancer Institute notes, there are several standard mesothelioma treatments:
- Surgery is one of the most aggressive treatments. Sometimes, surgeons can remove all the cancerous tissue. The cancer may even go into remission. Other times, they use surgery to remove tumors that cause pain and suffering, even if they cannot remove all the cancer tissue.
- Radiation therapy uses high-powered x-rays or other types of radiation to kill the cancer cells. Doctors may prescribe radiation therapy on its own or in combination with surgery.
- Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. These drugs may be injected or consumed orally. Like radiation therapy, doctors may prescribe chemotherapy on its own or in combination with surgery. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a half-dozen drugs for mesothelioma treatment. It has also approved two-drug combinations.
- Targeted therapy functions much like chemotherapy. It uses drugs or other synthetic substances to attack cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, targeted therapy treatments are more specifically tailored to the cancer. The result is that they do less damage to healthy cells and cause fewer side effects.
- Immunotherapy boosts your body’s natural defenses against cancer. Doctors use substances made in laboratories to supercharge your immune response.
- Tumor Treating Fields (TTF) send electrical currents at a specific wavelength through your body. Studies have shown that these currents slow or stop the growth of mesothelioma tumors. TTF works with transducer arrays that patients affix to their chest and back. They power the arrays with a portable battery pack.
While none of these treatments offer a reliable cure, they all provide some means to counter the disease and improve your quality of life. It is also worth noting that researchers continue to develop new treatments. The FDA approved Tumor Treating Fields as recently as 2019, and one of the two-drug combinations the FDA approved only just received approval in late 2020.
Which treatment is best for me?
You and your doctor will review many different factors to determine which treatment suits you best. These may include the location of your cancer, as well as its stage and cell type. You may also consider your goals for the treatment and the existence of any clinical studies that may offer you a chance to seek non-standard treatment.
In the end, you want to get the best possible treatment for your health and personal circumstances. You should not feel trapped by your finances. There are many different financial resources available to mesothelioma victims. An experienced attorney can help you explore your financial options. Your treatment should be based on medical concerns, not financial concerns.