Treatment for mesothelioma
Sadly, there is no cure for mesothelioma at present. But treatment is aimed at slowing down the disease and easing symptoms. Treatment depends on the staging and grading of your disease. Staging refers to the size of the tumour and if it has spread beyond where it first grew or not. Grading refers to how quickly the disease might grow.
Your doctor can advise you of the best treatment for you. The types of treatment include:
Sometimes mesothelioma can be removed by surgery. This is normally done under general anaesthetic. Sadly, surgery is often not an option because mesothelioma may have spread by the time it is diagnosed.
The build-up of fluid between the pleura can be removed during a thoracoscopy (pleural aspiration). During this treatment, your doctor can put medication into the pleura, causing scarring and preventing further build-up of fluid. This is known as pleurodesis. This will help you to feel less breathless.
Radiotherapy is the use of powerful X-rays to cure or control cancer. With mesothelioma, it can be used to control symptoms and also to shrink the tumour. Normally the chest is marked with a pen beforehand, so that the X-rays are sent to the same area of the lungs each time. You will be asked to sit very still in front of a machine that gives off the X-rays. This treatment is quick and painless. Your doctor and nurses will discuss with you how much radiotherapy you need. Find out more about radiotherapy.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to control the symptoms of the disease or slow down the growth of the tumour. Chemotherapy can be given through a plastic tube (cannula) put into your vein or in tablet form. The side-effects of the drugs can vary a lot and depend on the individual. Sometimes mesothelioma is treated with a combination of drugs. Your doctor or nurses can discuss your chemotherapy drugs with you in more detail. Learn more about chemotherapy.
Read next: Living with mesothelioma