Results from clinical trials and research help in the prognosis of mesothelioma. Although it is beneficial when diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma occurs during the disease's early stages, a complete cure does not exist. Surgery alone does not equate a complete, adequate treatment plan. Surgery is often selected as a part of a treatment plan in addition to other treatment methods such as radiation and chemotherapy. Multimodality therapy is the combination of two or all three methods of treatment.
Surgery is usually involved when diagnosing and treating mesothelioma patients. An adequate sample of the affected tissues (also known as a biopsy) is removed to test for mesothelioma. The most common surgery performed on mesothelioma patients is pleurectomy/decortication. In this procedure, the lining of the chest is removed in this specific surgical procedure. Other procedures that have been performed on mesothelioma patients include pneumonectomy, as well as the removal of the lining of the lung, chest, hemi-diaphragm, and pericardium.
When paired with radiation or chemotherapy, surgery can yield varied levels of success. If the cancer is caught early on, surgical removal of affected tissue can alleviate cancer from the body altogether and place patients into a state of remission. During remission, the body is believed to be cancer-free and the patient is placed on radiation or chemotherapy to help alleviate pain and to make sure cancer cells stay in remission rather than resurface.
Radiation therapy utilizes ionized radiation rays to kill and or contain cancer cells. This method is also used to decrease, stop or prevent cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body. Radiation therapy is given to help reduce pain and is considered a palliative method of treatment. Radiation therapy can be given externally or externally, using electromagnetic radiation rays such as X-Rays and gamma rays. Dosages are dependent on the amount of cancer cells in your body. Radiation therapy varies, some penetrating your body deeper than others.
If your physician opts to put you on an external radiation therapy treatment, you will be receiving your radiation through a machine. Patients who receive external radiation will be classified as outpatient and are not required to have any hospital stays. To treat more localized tumors or affected areas, internal radiation therapy is used. When on an internal radiation treatment plan, the radiation dosages are implanted in or near the affected tissues and or tumors via capsules or other small containers. Internal radiation patients may be required to stay in the hospital.
Chemotherapy is another method that helps contain, control and kill cancer cells present in the body. Through the use of chemicals, chemotherapy kills micro-organisms such as cancer. Chemotherapy is often used to combat cancer cells due to its specific ability to kill cells that divide rapidly. Combination chemotherapy can be given, pairing different drugs and dispensing them to the patient simultaneously. In order for a patient to be placed on chemotherapy depends on his or her performance status or level of health. Chemotherapy may be effective in killing cancerous cells that are rapidly metastasizing, but may not always reach the core of a mature tumor. In instances as this, surgery is often used to remove tumors that are out of chemotherapy's reach.
The downside to chemotherapy is that it can also kill cells that naturally divide rapidly, such as hair growth and blood cell production. Because of this, the main side effects to chemotherapy include both decrease in blood production and loss of hair. Chemotherapy can also induce nausea and vomiting. This treatment method is not meant to cure, but to palliate (reduce) symptoms such as pain.
Multimodality therapy involves the combination of other major treatment methods in treating solid tumors. A combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy is sometimes the prescribed prognosis for patients with pleural mesothelioma. Patients have had the most success combining surgery with chemotherapy and radiation, providing a significant increase in life expectancy. Mesothelioma patients who take the multimodality therapy approach to prognosis typically yield the best results as far as containing and prolonging life expectancy.