Treating mesothelioma is not a short or easy process. Because of its dormant period, which can last for up to 50 years, the vast majority of cases are caught in their later and more virulent stages. At this point, there is little chance of a completely successful battle, no matter how aggressive and thorough the treatment is.
Despite this, however, it is extremely important to have a positive attitude and outlook on your situation. Though many cases have devastating outcomes, not all of them are fatal. If you fight hard enough and maintain positivity, you may be able to overcome your tragic situation.
Is there a cure?
Currently, there is no known, dependable cure for mesothelioma. There are many treatment options available, but the survival rate of this illness still remains low. Despite this fact, some treatments have proven themselves to be more effective than others. Sometimes, when treatments are used in combination with one another, they can be both stronger and easier for the patient to handle.
The sooner the illness is detected and diagnosed, the greater the chances are of survival. With a disease like mesothelioma, an earlier diagnosis can make a world of difference. If you have been exposed to asbestos in your past, then you should consider visiting a physician and discussing your history with him or her.
There are a number of treatment options available to those diagnosed with mesothelioma. In most cases, patients are recommended to undergo radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Sometimes, surgery is a viable option for removing a malignant tumor. There have also been recent developments in alternative treatment areas such as immunotherapy and gene therapy, which have had positive results among patients.
Some patients have found that by combining therapy options, or by using both traditional and alternative methods of treatment, they have had more satisfactory results. Techniques such as aromatherapy, acupuncture, and massage have alleviated the pain and stress of traditional treatments for a number of patents.
By familiarizing yourself with the following treatment options, you will be able to make the most educated selection of the right one for you and your family:
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, then you should speak with your doctor about which option is best for you. Your physician will likely have recommendations, but you should undergo treatment with which you feel the most comfortable.
Radiation therapy is a less invasive procedure than surgery or chemotherapy. This treatment method utilizes powerful x-rays to kill dangerous cancer cells. It has been in existence for many years, and still remains as one of the most popular methods of attacking cancer cells. In many cases, radiation is used alongside surgery to treat mesothelioma.
There are two different types of radiation that patients may receive:
- External radiation, administered through use of an x-ray machine
- Internal radiation, administered through the implantation of radioactive material directly into the cancerous tissue
Depending on your stage of cancer and your physical state, your doctor may recommend either of the above treatments, either alone or alongside another method.
Chemotherapy is a method of treatment that uses very powerful drugs to attack cancerous cells in an effort to stop them from multiplying and spreading throughout the body. Chemotherapy can also be used to eliminate residual cells that remain after the surgical removal of a tumor, to shrink the tumors themselves, and to relieve the patient of pain.
Typically, these medications are injected into the body intravenously, although sometimes they may be administered orally or through injection into the skin or muscle tissue. The most commonly used chemotherapy drugs include Alimta and Cisplatin.
Surgery is often a recommended method of treatment for mesothelioma patients who are in the earlier stages of this cancer. Depending on your specific situation and desires, one of three surgery options may be recommended:
- Diagnostic surgery– used as a method of diagnosing and determining the stage of your condition
- Palliative surgery – used to treat and alleviate certain symptoms of the disease, but not mesothelioma itself
- Curative surgery – used with the intention of curing the illness
Typically, curative surgery is not useful with mesothelioma cases that have progressed to the later stages of the disease. However, palliative surgery can still be used to alleviate pain and discomfort while the patient undergoes other treatment methods.
There are a number of alternative treatment options that have emerged in recent years. These innovative methods are still being developed and optimized, but they have shown promising results so far. Some of the more common, new options include the following:
- Gene Therapy – correcting cancer-causing genes, thus making them more vulnerable to treatment
- Immunotherapy – stimulation of the body’s immune system to make it fight the cancer more aggressively
- Photodynamic Therapy – destroying cancer cells through the combination of a drug and laser light
These alternative options are becoming more and more popular, and they have been effectively used in combination with more tradition treatment methods, such as chemotherapy.