Regardless of the stage or type, mesothelioma is a difficult cancer to treat. Many factors are taken into consideration when determining a path of treatment for a patient diagnosed with mesothelioma. Factors such as whether the treatment is a palliative or curative one, as well as the goal of the specific treatment are important to acknowledge before treatment begins. Additionally, it is important patients and their families are aware of the benefits and risks associated with the various treatment options in order to make a more informed decision.
Staging divides a patient’s mesothelioma into several stages that will aid the oncologist in determining a prognosis. However, a more simple system may also be enlisted to help decide if the cancer is either resectable or unresectable. Resectable mesothelioma means that all of the visible tumor can be removed by various surgical procedures. On the other hand, unresectable mesothelioma means that surgery is not an option as a course of treatment.
If tumors recur after treatment, one’s cancer is labeled as recurrent mesothelioma. Recurrence can either be local, meaning it is in or near the same area of the body it originated in, or it can be distant, meaning it has metastasized to other organs such as the brain or liver. Unfortunately, mesothelioma tends to be a recurrent type of cancer.
Subsequent treatments will vary depending on many factors. Such factors include where the cancer is located, the patient’s general health, and what courses of treatment have already been used. Treatment options for recurrent mesothelioma generally employ the approaches used for unresectable mesothelioma.
Oftentimes, patients may be recommended to volunteer for a clinical trial. Many times physicians offer these trials as a viable option for recurrent cancers, as they can be difficult to treat. Clinical trials can sometimes offer new methods of treatment as well as new drugs that may be effective when other treatments have failed.
Only a licensed physician or cancer specialist can develop the best course of treatment for an individual as each case and cancer is unique. Despite being labeled resectable or unresectable, mesothelioma is a difficult cancer to treat. Many times, especially in situations where patients are diagnosed in the later stages of mesothelioma, the course of action determined for patients are palliative ones aimed only at symptom relief or extending prognosis. Mesothelioma has been largely linked to exposure to asbestos, a human carcinogen that through inhalation or ingestion becomes embedded in the lungs, heart, and abdomen. There is currently no known cure for mesothelioma.
American Cancer Society