Mesothelioma Treatments New Options

Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It affects the thin layer of tissue covering the internal organs. Treatments for mesothelioma are similar to how most other cancers are treated. However, new mesothelioma treatments are in development, and may offer a better prognosis for mesothelioma patients in the future.

Current Treatments for Mesothelioma

Currently, doctors use three types of mesothelioma treatments:

  • Chemotherapy involves injection of an anticancer drug into the affected area, and it works to prevent cancer cells from growing and dividing.
  • Radiation therapy uses concentrated beams of radiation (from X-ray or another source), which work to improve cancer symptoms.
  • Surgery involves removal of cancerous tissue. Surgery can be curative (meant to cure the cancer), or palliative (meant to improve symptoms).

A combination of any of these treatments may also be used. The choice of therapy for mesothelioma, prognosis (outlook for cure and survival), and relief of your symptoms depends on your overall health, the spread of your cancer, and how well it responds to properly chosen treatment.

Mesothelioma Clinical Trials

If you have mesothelioma, you may also wish to participate in a clinical trial. A clinical trial is the method of testing the effectiveness of a new drug or course of treatment. Most mesothelioma clinical trials are designed to compare the effects of standard treatments with those of new mesothelioma treatments.

Current clinical trials include several new mesothelioma treatments, including:

  • Angiogenesis inhibition: Drugs cut off blood supply to tumors to prevent growth.
  • Biologic therapy (or immunotherapy): Natural or lab-created elements help boost the patient’s own immune system, or direct it toward killing mesothelioma cells.
  • Drug therapy: New drugs are being developed to combat mesothelioma, and are being tested in clinical trials.
  • Gene therapy: Mutated genes in cancer cells are replaced with normal copies of that gene to manage unhealthy cell division and growth.

In addition to new treatments for mesothelioma, researchers and doctors are working to improve treatment by targeting diagnosis. Earlier diagnosis of mesothelioma is thought to be a positive factor in mesothelioma prognosis. The disease may be more responsive to both conventional and new mesothelioma treatments, if they are given in the earlier stages of the disease.

These new therapies are promising, and they provide hope for a cure for mesothelioma in the future. However, remember that with these experimental therapies, neither the effectiveness nor the risks are fully understood. This means that you should discuss all mesothelioma treatments (including participation in a clinical trial) with your doctor. He can help you to understand fully each one’s risks and benefits.

Resources

Albelda, S.M., et al. (2009). Localized treatment approaches for malignant pleural mesothelioma and fibrous tumors of the pleura. Retrieved January 4, 2010, from the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation Web site: http://www.curemeso.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=kkLUJ7MPKtH