Mesothelioma is a rare and serious form of cancer. It attacks the mesothelium, which is the layer of tissue the surrounds certain organs and body cavities. It protects and lubricates the organs, allowing them to shift and expand and contract within the body. Mesothelioma may affect the pleura (lining of the lungs and chest), peritoneum (lining of the abdomen and abdominal organs) or pericardium (heart sac and chest cavity). There is no known cure for mesothelioma. Treatment may vary depending on the type and severity of the cancer as well as the patient’s age and overall health. According to the American Cancer Society:
Mesothelioma is a serious disease. By the time the symptoms appear the disease is often advanced. No matter what the extent of the cancer, it can be very hard to treat.
The average survival times for people with mesothelioma have been between 4 and 18 months. But some people live much longer. Between 5% and 10% of people with mesothelioma live at least 5 years after their cancer is found.
Types of Treatment Options
The National Cancer Institute offers some helpful information about the different types of treatment available to patients diagnosed with mesothelioma. There are standard treatments, which are currently used, and there are clinical trials that are meant to improve upon current treatment methods or provide new methods. Depending on the outcome of a clinical trial, it may then become the new standard treatment.
There are currently three primary types of standard treatment for mesothelioma:
Malignant mesothelioma may be treated surgically, depending on the location of the tumor or tumors and whether cancerous cells have spread to other parts of the body. A wide local excision involves the removal of cancerous tissue as well as some of the healthy tissue around it. A pleurectomy and decortication involves the surgical removal of part of the pleura and the outside surface of the lungs. An extrapleural pneumonectomy involves the surgical removal of an entire diseased lung, part of the pericardium, part of the pleura and part of the diaphragm. Pleurodesis involves the use of chemicals or drugs to make a scar in the space between the layers of the pleura, which can help stop the buildup of fluid in the pleural cavity.
Radiation therapy involves the use of high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancerous cells or stop their growth. Depending on the type and state of mesothelioma, external or internal radiation therapy may be used. External radiation therapy is applied using a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed inside in needles, seeds, catheters or wires so it can be placed directly in or near the cancer.
Chemotherapy is a form of treatment that involves the use of drugs, taken by mouth or injected into the body, to kill cancerous cells or stop their growth. Systemic chemotherapy involves drugs taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, where they can enter the bloodstream and reach cancer cells throughout the body. Regional chemotherapy involves drugs injected directly in an organ, body cavity or cerebrospinal fluid, where they will mainly affect cancer cells in those targeted areas.Combination chemotherapy involves the use of more than one drug. Some of the types of drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of mesothelioma include Alimta, pemetrexed disodium, cisplatin, Platinol and Platinol-AQ.
There are also different types of clinical trials that a mesothelioma patient may decide to enter into. One type of treatment currently being studied through clinical trials is biologic therapy, wherein substances produced by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. This form of treatment is also called immunotherapy. Another treatment being researched in clinical trials is a type of regional chemotherapy to treat mesothelioma that has spread to the peritoneum (lining of the abdomen and abdominal organs), called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy. A surgeon will remove all visible cancer and then an anticancer drug solution is heated and pumped in and out of the abdomen to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Talk to a Mesothelioma Attorney About Your Legal Options
The treatment for mesothelioma is generally aggressive and can be extremely difficult for a patient to go through, with serious side effects that can have a dramatic impact on one’s quality of life and even one’s ability to perform day-to-day activities. Mesothelioma treatment is also expensive. Involving an attorney and seeking financial compensation for medical care and lost earnings can help a patient receive the care he or she needs and can also provide for the financial stability of his or her family. Talk to a mesothelioma attorney at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC today to learn more about your options and legal rights. We are here to help.