Mesothelioma Treatment Options

If a qualified doctor has diagnosed you with mesothelioma, an uncommon type of cancer that forms within the protective lining of the body’s internal organs, it is not a death sentence. Currently, more than ever, several state-of-the-art techniques offer hope for anyone affected by this asbestos-related cancer. Therefore, you should take action immediately and adopt a thorough treatment strategy to repel the effects of this deadly ailment.
Since this disease cannot be cured, various kinds of treatments can alleviate its effects and help you live an enjoyable and quality life. For treatment to be done effectively and efficiently, several things must be done, including establishing your general status of health, the type of treatment plan you desire, and certain aspects of the disease, such as its stage and location.

Picking the right qualified medical specialist is a vital initial step in planning for successful treatment of mesotheliomaThis is a notification of some sort.This is a notification of some sort.

Treatment Options for Mesothelioma

A number of treatment methods are available for those affected by mesothelioma. The type of treatment administered to a patient depends on the results of the diagnosis. Generally, mesothelioma treatment options can be either curative or palliative.

Curative treatment methods such as surgery seek to eliminate the cancerous substances out of the body. Other examples of curative treatment options include chemotherapy and radiation.

Palliative treatment methods endeavor to lower the severity of symptoms and make your life as stress-free as possible as you live with the disease. Examples of palliative treatment include massage, acupuncture, and various nutritional supplements.

It is essential to note that a treatment plan can be either curative or palliative depending on how it is used. For example, radiation can be used in a palliative situation in which surgery is no longer an option.

Mesothelioma patients should also seek for experimental treatment options that can be used in combination with the standard treatment types of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. New treatment methods are constantly being researched and discovered and they are good for increasing the possibilities of cure and recovery.

Surgery

Treating mesothelioma through surgery involves removing the cancerous tumor from the body. Together with chemotherapy, it is regarded to be the best treatment option for mesothelioma patients. After diagnosis, surgical procedures are used to remove the diseased tissues and cancer cells from the lining of the affected internal body organs. If the mesothelioma cancer cells are widespread within the body, it may be difficult to remove all the affected areas. When surgery is used in such a situation, its goal will be limited to alleviating some pain and suffering of the affected individual. Some type of chemotherapy or radiation therapy is often carried out after surgery with the intention of eradicating the cancerous cells that were untouched during the operation.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, also referred to as systemic therapy, employs chemicals to destroy the cancer cells from the lining of the body organs. It is called systemic treatment because of the use of oral or infusion-based medications, which enter the bloodstream, penetrate inside the body, and eliminate the cancerous cells all through the entire body. To increase its effectiveness, chemotherapy is often used both before and after surgery. Patients who cannot handle surgery also resort to using chemotherapy.

Some patients do not opt for chemotherapy because it kills both the target cells and other healthy cells. If this happens, a patient often experiences side effects on the rest of the body and feels much worse than before. Doctors usually administer chemotherapy drugs directly into the chest (intrapleural chemotherapy) to avoid injuring the healthy cells in the body as significantly.

Radiation

Radiation therapy involves channeling high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors in a particular area or areas within the body. It is usually combined with other treatment options to manage tumor growth among mesothelioma patients. Radiation is mainly done in two ways: external beam radiation and brachytherapy. External beam radiation involves using a machine outside the body to emit high-energy beams directly to the affected part of the body. Brachytherapy involves putting substances that generate radiation on or near the cancerous cells to eliminate them from the body.

Radiation therapy has fewer side effects as compared to chemotherapy and it is normally the better option in a palliative situation in which surgery cannot be performed. However, the use of high-energy rays can damage the internal organs. Therefore, it’s usually used cautiously and only when treating particular types of mesothelioma.

Multimodal

As much as every method used to treat mesothelioma cancer has advantages by itself, doctors often prefer a more multi-faceted approach; that is, a balanced blend of surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation.

When using this technique, specialists from various fields usually work together to develop a treatment plan that comprehensively manages the condition of the patient. A number of patients who have used this multimodal approach have responded positively to treatment and have had a high quality of life.

Experimental Mesothelioma Treatments

The boundaries of mesothelioma treatment are constantly being extended through innovative scientific research and discoveries. Most patients currently have not been able to receive successful treatment through the standard methods of treatment; thus, they have resorted to newer and better therapies. These experimental treatment options are considered cutting-edge and they are worth exploring by patients with mesothelioma.

  • Gene Therapy — This experimental treatment method entails altering the patient’s own genetic makeup to give them the ability to fight off the cancer cells. A modified gene is injected into the patient with the intention of repairing the problems brought by defective genes.
  • Immunotherapy — Immunotherapy or biologic therapy entails manipulating the patient’s immune system to wade off mesothelioma cancer. Immunotherapy is done by activating the body’s natural defenses to give them increased capability of getting rid of the cancer.
  • Photodynamic Therapy — This new experimental therapy for mesothelioma involves using light energy to destroy the cancer cells and stop cancer cells from spreading. Photodynamic therapy or PTP in short is done in two steps: first, administering of a drug that makes the cells sensitive to a particular light wavelength; second, exposing the cancer cells to light through a laser.

Mesothelioma Clinical Trials

Mesothelioma clinical trials refer to studies of promising new or experimental therapies in people diagnosed with this cancer. Undertaking clinical trials is the hope of developing successful mesothelioma treatment methods, as they would advance the current options such as gene therapy and immunotherapy.

If you opt for a clinical trial with the possibility of discovering new and robust treatment methods, you’ll assist in improving how this type of cancer will be treated in the future. Even if a clinical trial does not give convincing results, it may help in answering critical questions and extend further the boundaries of mesothelioma research.

Clinical trials are continuing in several parts across the country for individuals diagnosed with this life-threatening cancer. And, this has assisted in treating patients who do not respond to standard therapy methods well.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) options are regarded to be unconventional mesothelioma treatment methods, and are getting increased attention from patients looking for other ways of successfully managing their condition. Although these health practices are usually not accepted as part of mainstream medical practice, they are becoming an essential aspect of mesothelioma treatment plan—particularly when coupled with the traditional treatment techniques.

Alternative treatments are often used to alleviate the pain of the mesothelioma patients or lower the level of stress arising from the use of standard treatment procedures. It is critical to seek the advice of your doctor before opting for any form CAM. A specialist has the capability to establish whether someone suffering from asbestos cancer is healthy enough to include alternative treatment options into his or her already-running treatment plan. Examples of CAM treatments include acupuncture, breath training, massage, relaxation exercises, homeopathy, herbal & nutritional supplements, and meditation.

The Cost of Mesothelioma Treatment

Treating a patient diagnosed with mesothelioma can be very expensive. Every individual’s diagnosis and life condition is distinct and expenses associated with managing this asbestos-related illness differ from person to person. Thus, educating patients on the expenses involved in treating their illness can assist them get ready for what they are likely to encounter.

A mesothelioma patient should expect to incur these costs:

  • Travel and lodging expenses — A patient seeking for treatment away from his or her local centers or doctors will have to dig deeper into his or her pocket.
  • Surgery costs — Surgery costs for mesothelioma patients are very high—can reach tens of thousands of dollars.
    Chemotherapy costs — Expenses for chemotherapy also vary depending on the stage of the illness, the type of drugs being administered, and other factors particular to every patient.
  • Radiation therapy costs — Radiation treatment is also expensive since high-tech equipment and machinery is required to access the diseased cells.
  • Hidden costs — Managing mesothelioma goes far beyond the normal expenses of medication and doctor visits. Some hidden costs may comprise of being off work for an extended period, which could greatly hamper the ability to pay for care, emotional drain, and loss of close friends because of overdependence on them.

The financial burden of managing this cancer can reach above the roof and lead to extreme hardships and debt. Here are some strategies a mesothelioma patient can use to reduce his or her costs:

  • Access to medical insurance — Health insurance has come as a benefit to many in meeting the costs of mesothelioma treatment. However, some patients will still be strained by the high costs, particularly the hidden costs. As such, a patient may seek for other ways to get financial assistance.
  • Government assistance — The government has a policy for giving assistance to those unable to afford the high cancer treatment costs.
  • Charities — Various non-profit organizations also provide financial assistance.
  • Clinical trials — These can assist a patient in lowering the treatment costs. Clinical trials enable mesothelioma patients to undergo experimental tests and receive medications at reduced costs or sometimes at zero fees.

History of Mesothelioma Treatment

Even though asbestos has been used since the emergence of civilization, the initial recorded case of an asbestos-related illness was not done until the late nineteenth century. The illness was given the name mesothelioma in 1931. Since then, major advances have been made in its treatment.

For years, medical researchers were unable to comprehend how this disease develops and causes death. In 1960s, a major breakthrough occurred and it was discovered that the illness starts from the mesothelial cells around the lungs, and this further brightened hopes for finding its cure.

The search for a cure for mesothelioma still continues today amidst the roadblocks of the complex nature of the illness, its uniqueness, its rarity, and its aggressive nature.

Mesothelioma Experts and Medical Facility

Mesothelioma is a very rare illness—affecting between 2,000 and 3,000 Americans annually. As such, most medical specialists around the country never treat it or even handle a patient suffering from the condition.

Accessing the best medical treatment is pivotal for successfully managing the asbestos-related cancer. Usually, the most effective technique of treating mesothelioma is incorporation of specialists from various disciplines. Oncologists, thoracic surgeons, and various medical professionals often work together to bring the situation under control.

After you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should quickly start your search for a good mesothelioma treatment facility. Do not rely on the unsophisticated equipment at your local hospital.

Preparing to See your Doctor

Since appointments with a specialized doctor can be brief and there is usually a lot of information to give out, it is important that you prepare yourself adequately and maximize on the time with him or her.

Here are some things to do as you set up an appointment with your doctor:

  • Ask if you’re required to do anything in advance before seeing your doctor. For example, some hospitals can ask you to restrict your diet.
  • Record all symptoms you are experiencing.
  • Write down important personal information such as major recent difficulties encountered and stresses.
  • Write down any medication you’ve taken recently or you’re currently taking.
  • Inform a family member or friend to accompany you for the visit.
  • Make a list of all the questions you would like to ask your doctor. For example, is my condition likely to be temporary or chronic or how can I best manage this condition?
  • Plan to be as open as possible to your doctor and answer all questions to the best of your knowledge.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, let our patient advocates help you get the best care available. If you need free assistance with finding doctors, the best treatment centers, financial assistance, or more detailed mesothelioma information, contact us today. We are here to help.