The spread of cancer is referred to as “metastasis,” which occurs when the cancer spreads beyond the area where it was first formed. In the case of mesothelioma, the cancer most often initially forms in the lining of the lungs, but it can also form in the abdomen, around the heart, or in the testes. Once it metastasizes, it can spread through the bloodstream and the lymph nodes and into other organs.
In the case of mesothelioma, metastasis will not be a fast process. Mesothelioma happens after exposure to asbestos, which is typically inhaled into the lungs where it settles in the mesothelium. It can take decades from the time of initial exposure until this cancer develops and spreads. Its slow progression is the main reason it is often not diagnosed until many years later.
With property treatment, the spread of mesothelioma can be slowed to extend your life expectancy. No matter what stage your mesothelioma has reached, in most cases there is some form of treatment that can slow its spread. Your medical team may choose to use any of the following treatments to help stop the spread of your cancer.
Mesothelioma Treatment Options
There are several different treatment options your medical team may choose to use to slow the progress of your mesothelioma. Which of these treatments is the right choice for you will depend on factors such as the type of mesothelioma you have and what stage it has reached.
The earlier you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, the more you will benefit from surgical treatment to remove the tumors from your epithelium. This treatment can extend your life, and if it’s used in conjunction with chemotherapy it can also improve your quality of living. On its own, it can help control pain and reduce your symptoms.
One type of surgery that may be used to treat patients with mesothelioma is extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), which involves removing the affected lung and pleura. In some cases, the surgeon will also remove the pericardium and the lymph nodes on the affected side. After these organs are removed, the area will be rebuilt with man-made materials.
This is a major operation, and approximately one in three patients will have serious complications. However, with certain types of mesothelioma that have not metastasized to the lymph nodes, it may be the patient’s best shot at a cure.
Some other types of surgery that may be used to help patients with mesothelioma include pleurectomy, radical pleurectomy, extrapleural pneumonectomy, and partial pleurectomy. Unfortunately, with any of these surgeries, the surgeon won’t know whether or not it is the best type of surgery for the patient until after the procedure has started.
Chemotherapy involves treatment with anti-cancer medications, and it is an option for patients who aren’t good candidates for surgery. In many cases, doctors try chemotherapy first before they resort to surgery. Sometimes chemotherapy is used after surgery to kill any remaining mesothelioma cells.
This treatment can shrink mesothelioma tumors or slow their growth, but it won’t make them disappear completely. Despite the fact that chemo is not a cure, studies have shown that patients who receive chemo can live three times longer than patients who do not receive this treatment.
Mesothelioma can be difficult to treat with radiation, but this is still the best option for many patients who aren’t good candidates for surgery. These are some of the ways radiation can be used to treat this condition:
- It can be used to halt the spread of the cancer in areas that were missed during surgery
- It can reduce the risk of recurrence of the cancer in a specific area
- It can be used to reduce chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms
- It can be used to control symptoms in patients that can’t have surgery
Radiation is not the most effective treatment for mesothelioma because this disease involves many tumors rather than a single tumor that can be targeted. New techniques are being developed that can improve the effectiveness of radiation treatments.
Some patients may benefit most from multimodal therapy, which uses a combination of traditional therapies to treat mesothelioma.
Your doctor or lawyer may be able to tell you about clinical trials that can improve your long-term prognosis. There are promising ongoing trials that test experimental treatments like immunotherapy that may be able to detect mesothelioma earlier on, before it’s had a chance to spread to your other organs.
Many people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma are eager to become a part of these trials because it gives them hope for the future. Rather than accepting a terminal diagnosis, being a part of a trial has the potential to change outcomes and to help others by assisting researchers as they race to find a cure.
Paying for Treatment
Mesothelioma expenses involve a lot more than doctor and hospital bills. Many people have to travel to receive treatments, which means paying for airfare, rental cars, and hotels. Oxygen therapy alone averages $200 a month, and this is just one of many costs involved.
The cost of having mesothelioma can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars, and for some patients it will be hundreds of thousands. Follow this link to learn more about how
medical expenses can be included in the amount of a settlement. If your condition is the result of asbestos exposure at work, you may be able to receive compensation to help pay for treatments.
Settlements from mesothelioma suits can come from direct negotiations with an insurance carrier, from a jury trial, or from an asbestos trust fund. If your mesothelioma is related to your military service, it can come from the Veterans Administration. On average, it takes less than a year to receive compensation, unless you have a jury trial, which can take much longer.