Treatment helps people live longer with malignant mesothelioma. While a curative treatment outcome is rare, a treatment approach called multimodal therapy can help certain patients live for years with the cancer.
Multimodal therapy combines treatments to kill cancer cells in multiple ways. Specialists consider it the best treatment for mesothelioma.
Patients diagnosed in an early stage often qualify for a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Multimodal therapy for late-stage patients may involve chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
The most common treatment options for mesothelioma include:
New and experimental therapies are available through clinical trials. Some of these therapies include targeted therapy, immunotherapy and photodynamic therapy.
Different types of mesothelioma require specialized treatment. Varying surgeries and chemotherapy drugs are used in malignant pleural mesothelioma treatment compared to peritoneal mesothelioma treatment.
Mesothelioma life expectancy without treatment is around four to six months for the average patient diagnosed in stage 3 or stage 4. Electing treatment at these stages often helps patients live at least a year.
Those diagnosed in stage 1 or stage 2 who undergo aggressive treatment may live for years with mesothelioma.
What Are the Current Types of Mesothelioma Surgery?
The current types of surgery for pleural mesothelioma include extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy and decortication (P/D). A thoracotomy is the first part of an EPP or P/D surgery. This allows doctors to operate on organs inside the chest. Surgeons may also use a diagnostic procedure called video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), which is inserting a tiny camera through a small cut in the chest to see the lung. VATS allows doctors to see inside the chest and take biopsy samples. The primary surgery for peritoneal mesothelioma is cytoreductive surgery, also known as debulking surgery.
Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP)
EPP removes the cancerous lung and all nearby areas where mesothelioma spreads. This can include nearby lymph nodes, parts of the chest lining, heart lining and diaphragm.
Pleurectomy and Decortication (P/D)
P/D spares the lung and only removes cancerous parts of the pleural lining, the chest wall lining and the diaphragm.
Cytoreductive surgery removes cancerous growths from the lining of the abdomen. Also known as debulking surgery or peritonectomy, this procedure is often followed by heated chemotherapy.