What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is caused by long-term exposure to asbestos. It is most commonly found in the lining of the lungs, but it can also occur in the lining of the abdomen, heart, and other organs. The most common symptom of mesothelioma is shortness of breath, but other symptoms, such as chest pain, coughing, weight loss, and fatigue, can also occur. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is often only diagnosed in its later stages, when treatment options are limited.
There are several treatment options available for patients with mesothelioma. Surgery is often the first line of treatment, as it can help to remove the tumors and reduce symptoms. Depending on the severity of the cancer, doctors may also recommend chemotherapy or radiation therapy. In some cases, a combination of treatments may be recommended.
If the cancer is localized, surgery may be used to remove the tumors. This can help to reduce symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life. Depending on the severity of the cancer, doctors may recommend a pleurectomy or a pneumonectomy. A pleurectomy involves removing the pleura, the lining of the lung, while a pneumonectomy involves removing the entire lung.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be used to shrink tumors and reduce symptoms. Common chemotherapy drugs used to treat mesothelioma include Alimta, Cisplatin, and Gemcitabine. The drugs are usually given in cycles, and the patient may need to take breaks between treatments.
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It can be used to shrink tumors and reduce symptoms. Radiation therapy is usually combined with chemotherapy and may be used before or after surgery. Common types of radiation therapy used to treat mesothelioma include external beam radiation and brachytherapy.
Immunotherapy is a relatively new form of treatment that is gaining popularity in the mesothelioma community. This type of therapy uses drugs to boost the patient’s immune system and help it to fight the cancer cells. Common immunotherapy drugs used to treat mesothelioma include Opdivo and Keytruda.
Clinical trials are a great option for patients with mesothelioma. These trials are designed to test new treatments that may be more effective than existing treatments. Clinical trials are often the only way to access the latest treatments, so it is important for patients to explore their options. Patients should talk to their doctor about participating in a clinical trial.
In addition to treatment, there are also several strategies for managing symptoms. Pain medications, such as opioids, can be used to manage pain. Oxygen therapy can help to improve breathing. Other strategies, such as diet and exercise, can also help to manage symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life.
Living with Mesothelioma
Living with mesothelioma can be difficult, but it is possible. Patients should talk to their doctor about treatment options and symptom management strategies. It is also important to find a support system. There are many organizations that provide support and resources for mesothelioma patients and their loved ones.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is caused by long-term exposure to asbestos. Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and clinical trials. It is also important to manage symptoms and find a support system. With the right treatment and support, it is possible to live a long and fulfilling life with mesothelioma.