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Mesothelioma | Mesothelioma Treatment

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Mesothelioma treatment depends on various factors including the location of the cancer, the stage of the disease, and the patient’s age and health.  Mesothelioma is a rare cancer linked to asbestos exposure that attacks the lining of the organs – lung, heart and abdomen.  The most common is malignant pleural mesothelioma or cancer of the lining of the lungs.  Mesothelioma has a long latency period and symptoms are non-specific, so in most cases diagnosis is difficult before the advanced stages of the disease.  Typical mesothelioma treatment includes chemotherapy, surgery and radiation in an effort to extend the patient’s life.

Surgery:  Surgery is a common treatment for mesothelioma wherein the doctor removes part of the lining of the chest or abdomen and the surrounding tissue.  For pleural mesothelioma or cancer of the lining of the lung, a lung may be removed.  This surgery is called a pneumonectomy.  Sometimes part of the diaphragm is also removed during this procedure.

Radiation: Radiation or radiotherapy involves the use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy affects the cancer cells only in the treated area. The radiation may come from a machine (external radiation) or from putting materials that produce radiation through thin plastic tubes into the area where the cancer cells are found (internal radiation therapy).

Chemotherapy:  Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Most drugs used to treat mesothelioma are given by injection into a vein (intravenous, or IV). Doctors are also studying the effectiveness of putting chemotherapy directly into the chest or abdomen (intracavitary chemotherapy).

To relieve symptoms and control pain, the doctor may use a needle or a thin tube to drain fluid that has built up in the chest or abdomen. The procedure for removing fluid from the chest is called thoracentesis. Removal of fluid from the abdomen is called paracentesis. Drugs may be given through a tube in the chest to prevent more fluid from accumulating. Radiation therapy and surgery may also be helpful in relieving symptoms.

Source:            National Cancer Institute

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