How To Treat Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma treatment choices depend on many factors including: the stage of the illness, the location of the cancer, the patient’s age and his or her desire to rehabilitate. The survival time, as generally known by the public, for mesothelioma victims is eight to one year, but experts have better statistics. Survival rate has reached 5 years for about 40% for selected patients. To adequate for some mesothelioma treatments the patients have to meet special criteria.

Known mesothelioma treatment options are the surgery, Chemotherapy and Radiation therapy. Other experimental treatments start to show encouraging results such as Photodynamic therapy, Gene therapy, and immunotherapy.

Mesothelioma is a cancer particularly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. Although breathing in fibrous asbestos can also cause lung cancer, mesothelioma is different from lung cancer in that it affects the lining of the lungs rather than the lung as a whole. Mesothelioma is a disease that causes about 2,000-3,000 new cases of cancer each year. This article will provide a brief overview of mesothelioma before discussing some treatment options.

Asbestos itself is not cancerous. People suffer from lung damage and cancer from asbestos when the material breaks apart, sending microscopic fibrous particles in the air. Therefore, it is possible to live in home structured with asbestos without ever breathing in the toxic substance. It is more commonly seen in people who worked directly with asbestos, such as mining and construction, because those two activities promoted the breakage and spread of asbestos fibers into the air.

As people unknowingly breath in the asbestos fibers, the pieces lodge themselves in the lungs-sometimes being completely stuck in the lungs and irretrievable. Because of this, the five year survival rate of this terrible disease hovers at about 10%.

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Surgical mesothelioma treatment consists on three main forms: diagnostic surgery, curative surgery and palliative surgery. Diagnostic and palliative surgeries provide symptomatic relief. Only curative surgery can potentially remove cancer from a patient with mesothelioma. It is particularly important to diagnose the disease as early as possible for curative surgery to be effective though. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is not usually diagnosed before it reaches advanced stages, while surgery is not an option any more.

Chemotherapy consists on the intravenous injection of substances that kill cancer fast multiplying cells by interfering into the division process. A relatively new treatment called: heated chemotherapy; avoids a common side effect of the standard chemotherapy that kills the rapidly dividing non-cancerous cells. This mesothelioma treatment option usually succeeds a surgery.

Radiation Therapy, often used in parallel with surgery, is used to kill the cancer cells and prevent them from spreading out. It can also be used as a stand-alone treatment to soothe pain and other discomforts related to the illness.

Photodynamic therapy is used to exterminate cancer cells by exposing them to a particular light; the patient is administered an intravenous solution, beforehand. Photodynamic therapy is considered as highly specialized and more specific to skin cancers and to few lung cancers. This mesothelioma treatment option is considered as helpless in metastasized stages.

Gene therapy consists on genetically manipulating the malignant cells, by introducing a non-infectious virus. The intruder makes the cells produce a certain protein that interferes in the cancer cells “suicide” phenomenon. In addition to that, the patient is treated with chemotherapy medications that kill only the cancer cells. This mesothelioma treatment shows promising results, despite being still at experimental stages.

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Immunotherapy works out the patient’s immune system and makes it able to recognize diseased cells as harmful. The treatment consists on administering a vaccine of cancerous cells that the body would consider as dangerous and consequently thinks that the cancer is harmful and fights it.

There are two types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma begins in the outer lining of the lungs and chest cavity; it is the more common type of mesothelioma at about 70% of mesothelioma sufferers having the pleural version. The less common type of lung lining cancer is peritoneal mesothelioma, which begins in the lining of the abdomen.

There are a variety of treatment options available for mesothelioma based on the stage it is when detected, the age of the patient, the location of the disease, how far it is spread, etc. The three most prolific types of treatment include regular cancer treatment: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. It is typical to combine at least two of these methods in battling mesothelioma.

As doctors know this type of cancer more and more, several new types of treatment have been developed. This includes anti-angiogenesis drugs. Unlike chemotherapy, anti-angiogenesis drugs specifically target the cancerous tumors, rather than killing both cancerous and noncancerous cells. Other option is immunotherapy, that enhances the body’s own immune system to better fight the disease.

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Photodynamic therapy and gene therapy are two different ways being utilized to treat mesothelioma. There are even a number of unconventional and alternative medicines that can be effective in healing mesothelioma. However, as mentioned above, treatment for this cancer has not proven to be hugely successful, mostly because it is very difficult to detect the cancer until it is too late.

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