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How Is Malignant Mesothelioma Treated

Updated on May 25, 2012

Malignant Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the thin cell wall lining of the human body's internal organs and structures known as mesothelium. Research has not revealed any solid treatment for malignant mesothelioma so far. However, a variety of treatments is used to control the disease and deliver relief to the patient. Some common treatments include chemotherapy and surgery. Either of these therapies can be used in combination with radiation therapy; however, radiation therapy has not proved to be more effective than surgery or chemotherapy.

After the diagnosis, the patient has to go through an evaluation process for assessing his overall health. The physician used this evaluation to prescribe treatment for the patient. A wide array of factors influences the type of treatment that will be prescribed by the physician. Some factors include location of the disease (tunica vaginalis / pleural / peritoneal / pericardial), state of disease, historical subtype of the disease, overall health results of the patient and some other factors.

A number of traditional and non-traditional methods are used to treat malignant mesothelioma.

Traditional Malignant Mesothelioma Treatment Options

There are several types of surgeries that are used for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma. But not all are suitable for every mesothelioma patient. The type of surgery performed will depend on the age, state, type and condition of the patient. In other words, physicians decide which type of surgery is best for you.

In chemotherapy, certain medications are used to exterminate the cancer cells. These therapy can kill cancer cells and/or stop them from multiplying. Some physicians use Chemotherapy as the key player for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma.

For radiation therapy, physicians use high-power x-rays in order to kill the cancer cells and destroy the mesothelioma tumor. There are two ways to use this technology: external radiation and internal radiation. In external radiation, a machine is used to aim a beam of high energy radiation at the area affected by malignant mesothelioma. In internal radiation, the radiation comes from radioactive substances laid directly in the cells or in the surrounding area by means of plastic tubes.

Sometimes, two or more treatment modalities are combined in order to treat malignant mesothelioma. This is called multi-model treatment, which can be a combination of surgery & radiation, and surgery & chemotherapy. Another term called tri-modal therapy is also used which means the combination of three modalities.

Non-Traditional Malignant Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Apart from the traditional methods of treating malignant mesothelioma, some experimental types of treatment are also available that are actually suggested by pre-clinical research and trials. None of these therapies is backed by clinical proof; however, these treatment methods introduce some new approach to cure this disease.

In photodynamic therapy, light energy is used to kill cancer cells. Sometimes, this therapy is used in combination with other treatments such as surgery to treat malignant mesothelioma. This treatment method proved effective and produced positive results in some patients. However, the treatment is still in experimental stage.

Gene therapy is a newly introduced treatment that is still on clinical trials. This treatment allows physicians to target tumors instead of destroying healthy cells that is a side effect of traditional chemotherapy methods to treat malignant mesothelioma.

Immunotherapy is an entirely different way of treating malignant mesothelioma. In this treatment, your body’s immune system is used to combat cancer cells. Other names of this therapy are biological therapy or biological response modifiers (BRMs).


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