Best Treatments For Mesothelioma

Best Treatments For MesotheliomaMesothelioma (or, malignant mesothelioma) is a type of cancer developing from the cells of mesothelium. Mesothelium is a protective lining covering many parts of the body, such as lungs, abdominal cavity, heart, and testis. It affects most commonly pleura (lining covering lungs). The commonest cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure leading to inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers. Not all people with exposure to asbestos develop mesothelioma.

Other risk factors are living with anyone with daily exposure to asbestos, and exposure to simian virus 40. Symptoms may develop only 20-50 years after getting exposed to asbestos. The symptoms will depend on which part of the body’s mesothelium is affected. The symptoms can include cough, breathlessness, chest pain, weight loss, abdominal swelling, abdominal pain, bowel obstruction, fatigue, fever, difficulty in swallowing, and swelling of neck and face. The chances of a complete cure are very less. The prognosis is better if the mesothelioma is treated in its early stages. Treatment depends on the stage and location of the mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Treatments

Radiation Therapy (Radiotherapy)

Radiation therapy involves the focusing of high-energy radiation, like X-rays, to specific spots chosen on the body. This can reduce the symptoms. Sometimes, radiation therapy is given after surgery or biopsy to prevent the spread of mesothelioma to the surgical incision. Radiation therapy given alone is not very effective and has to be combined with surgery. However, sometimes, in inoperable cases, it is given as palliative therapy.


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Radiotherapy

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of powerful medicines to kill the cancer cells. It can slow down or shrink the growth of mesothelioma. Sometimes it is given directly into the local parts of the body affected by mesothelioma, such as abdominal cavity or chest cavity. This reduces injury to healthy cells, and you can give higher doses of chemotherapeutic drugs. The drugs used in chemotherapy are cisplatin with raltitrexed or pemtrexed, along with supplementation with vitamin B12 and folate.

Chemotherapy

Surgery

Surgery alone does not give good results. It needs to be combined with chemotherapy and radiation. There are various types of surgeries depending on the location of the mesothelioma. If it is in the chest, pleurectomy (removal of pleura) is commonly done. Sometimes, affected parts of lung, diaphragm, and pericardium (lining of heart) are removed. If the abdominal cavity is affected, then peritoneum needs to be removed.

 Surgery

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy has been shown to be somewhat effective in mesothelioma. Interleukin-2 (IL-2) holds promise, but its major side effects limit its use. IL-2 makes the mesothelioma cells susceptible to antibodies produced by your immune system. Results with interferon-alpha are more encouraging. Nearly 20% of patients respond to it with 50% reduction of tumor mass, with very few side effects.

Immunotherapy

Alternative Therapies

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine. There is convincing evidence, both in the laboratory and in clinical trials, that its extract, withaferin A, inhibits the growth of mesothelioma via multiple pathways. There is commercial manufacture and wide availability of Ashwagandha. You can try acupuncture, breathing exercises and relaxation exercises to cope with breathlessness.

AshwagandhaOther alternatives are cisplatin with vinorelbine or gemcitabine. Patients intolerant to cisplatin are prescribed carboplatin. Sometimes, chemotherapy is given prior to surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy). This is done to shrink the tumor so that surgery becomes easier. More commonly, the chemotherapy is given following surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy). This is to prevent recurrence of the cancer.

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