5 Treatment Options for People Diagnosed with Mesothelioma

Doctor doing check up

While it’s now known that asbestos is a carcinogen that can cause cancer, that wasn’t always a well-known fact. It was once widely used to manufacture everything from car parts to flooring material, from roofing systems to house siding, and from attic insulation to textured coatings.

Products containing asbestos are now largely banned, but that doesn’t mean your home, workplace, or environment is free from the naturally occurring and heat-resistant mineral. 

Breathing in asbestos fibers can lead to lung diseases like mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer. About 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year in the U.S., and the life expectancy after a diagnosis usually isn’t more than around 20 months. 

One reason the life expectancy is so low for people diagnosed with mesothelioma is that decades may pass after asbestos exposure before symptoms of the disease manifest themselves. And if decisive action isn’t taken as soon as possible, effective treatment options diminish. Symptoms include things like night sweats, weight loss, labored breathing, and chest or abdominal pain. 

Pleural mesothelioma occurs in the lungs and peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the abdomen. There are two other types of the disease, but the two aforementioned kinds are the most commonly diagnosed.

If someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma, they’ll want to know their options to make informed decisions that increase their life expectancy. Here are five treatment options.

  1. Chemotherapy

One effective mesothelioma treatment is chemotherapy. It’s a common treatment for different kinds of cancer. This method involves using cancer-destroying drugs to eliminate mesothelioma cells and slow down the spread of the cancer. 

Chemotherapy may also be appropriate ahead of a surgical procedure as part of a multi-pronged approach to destroy mesothelioma cells. That might give you the best odds of as long a life expectancy as you can hope for, given a mesothelioma diagnosis.

  1. Surgery

Surgery is another treatment option. A surgeon can use this method to remove tumors and compromised tissue, making follow-up mesothelioma treatments more effective. Surgery for mesothelioma is usually combined with other treatments, and the specific type of surgery will depend on where the cancer has developed in the body. 

It’s vital to note that surgery alone isn’t enough. It’s highly effective at removing tumors. But the surgical method needs to be paired with one or more other treatment options.

  1. Immunotherapy

Yet another mesothelioma treatment option is immunotherapy, which involves using medication to strengthen the patient’s immune system. A robust immune system can help to fight the cancer. While the outlook for people diagnosed with mesothelioma is typically unfavorable, treatments like immunotherapy can help to extend life expectancy rates.

  1. Optune Lua

Optune Lua is the first FDA-approved treatment specifically for unresectable pleural mesothelioma. The treatment is actually a wearable, portable device that transmits electrical waves through the patient’s body. The goal is for the electrical waves to impede cancer cell division and multiplication. 

This treatment can add between three and five months to a patient’s life expectancy and give them a higher quality of life. The patient won’t have to worry about side effects like they will if they get chemotherapy. 

  1. Radiation

Radiation is an effective treatment for mesothelioma that eradicates diseased cells using high-energy beams. Doctors usually use radiation for pleural mesothelioma, which occurs in the lining of the lungs. It can be combined with surgery to extend life expectancy rates.

These five treatment options can help extend lifespans and quality of life for people coping with mesothelioma. Consulting with a medical professional is the best way to deal with this aggressive form of cancer and develop a game plan to fight the disease.