Finding the Best Treatment for Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the thin layer of tissue surrounding the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, which was widely used in industries such as construction, shipbuilding, and manufacturing until its ban in the late 1970s. Unfortunately, the symptoms of mesothelioma often do not appear until decades after exposure, making it difficult to detect and treat in its early stages.

Despite its rarity, there are several treatment options available for mesothelioma patients. However, choosing the best treatment can be overwhelming and confusing, especially for those who have just received a diagnosis. In this ultimate guide, we will break down the different treatment options for mesothelioma and provide tips for finding the best treatment center.

Introduction to Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that attacks the mesothelium, the protective membrane that lines the chest cavity and covers internal organs. There are three main types of mesothelioma: pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial. Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, is the most common type, accounting for about 80% of all cases. Peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the abdomen, makes up about 20% of cases, while pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the heart, is the rarest type.

The most common cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was once used in many industries due to its heat-resistant properties. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can become lodged in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart, causing inflammation and scarring over time. This can lead to the development of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 20-50 years after exposure to asbestos, making it difficult to diagnose and treat in its early stages. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, weight loss, abdominal pain, and swelling. If you have a history of asbestos exposure or are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Understanding Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Finding the Best Treatment for Mesothelioma

The best treatment for mesothelioma depends on various factors, such as the type and stage of cancer, overall health and age of the patient, and personal preferences. The main treatment options for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and clinical trials. In some cases, a combination of these treatments may be recommended.


Surgery is often the first-line treatment for mesothelioma, as it can help remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible and potentially prolong survival. There are several types of surgeries used to treat mesothelioma, including:

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy: This is a major surgical procedure that involves removing the affected lung, part of the diaphragm, and the lining of the heart. It is usually reserved for patients with early-stage pleural mesothelioma who are in good overall health.
  • Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D): This surgery involves removing the lining of the affected lung and any visible tumors, while leaving the lung intact. It is often recommended for patients with early-stage pleural mesothelioma who are not candidates for an extrapleural pneumonectomy.
  • Cytoreduction surgery: For peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the abdomen, cytoreduction surgery may be performed to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. This is typically followed by heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), which involves delivering high doses of chemotherapy directly into the abdominal cavity.
  • Pericardiectomy: In rare cases of pericardial mesothelioma, a surgical procedure called pericardiectomy may be performed to remove the affected lining of the heart.

Surgery for mesothelioma can be complex and may carry risks, so it is important to choose an experienced and specialized surgeon. Your doctor will evaluate your overall health and the stage of your cancer to determine if surgery is a suitable treatment option for you.

Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are often used in combination with surgery to help kill any remaining cancer cells and prevent the cancer from returning. Chemotherapy involves using drugs to kill cancer cells, while radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells or shrink tumors.

For pleural mesothelioma, chemotherapy may be given before or after surgery to help reduce the size of the tumor and make it easier to remove. It can also be used as palliative care to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life for patients with advanced mesothelioma. Common chemotherapy drugs used for mesothelioma include cisplatin, pemetrexed, and gemcitabine.

Radiation therapy may also be used before or after surgery to help shrink tumors or relieve pain in areas where the cancer has spread. It is usually delivered externally through a machine called a linear accelerator, but it can also be given internally through a process called brachytherapy. Side effects of radiation therapy may include fatigue, skin irritation, and nausea.

For peritoneal mesothelioma, a treatment approach called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) may be used. This involves delivering high doses of heated chemotherapy directly into the abdominal cavity during surgery. This method allows for higher concentrations of chemotherapy to reach the cancer cells while minimizing exposure to healthy tissues.

Immunotherapy and Clinical Trials

Immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment for mesothelioma that works by boosting the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. It involves using drugs or other substances to help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells more effectively. For mesothelioma, the most commonly used immunotherapy drug is pembrolizumab, which has shown promising results in clinical trials.

Speaking of clinical trials, they are an essential tool in advancing mesothelioma treatment options. These studies evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new treatments and may offer patients access to cutting-edge therapies not yet available to the public. While participating in a clinical trial may come with some risk, it can also provide hope and potentially improve outcomes for patients with mesothelioma.

Alternative and Complementary Treatments

In addition to traditional medical treatments, some mesothelioma patients may opt for alternative or complementary therapies to help manage symptoms and improve their overall well-being. These may include acupuncture, massage, meditation, and herbal supplements. While these treatments may offer some benefits, it is important to consult with your doctor before trying any alternative or complementary therapies, as they may interfere with conventional treatments or medications.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Treatment

Finding the Best Treatment for Mesothelioma

When faced with a mesothelioma diagnosis, it can be overwhelming to navigate through the different treatment options. To help you make an informed decision, here are some factors to consider when choosing a treatment:

  • Type and stage of cancer: The type and stage of your cancer will play a significant role in determining the most appropriate treatment options for you. For example, surgery may not be an option if the cancer has spread too far, or if you have underlying health conditions that make surgery risky.
  • Overall health and age: Your overall health and age will also be considered when recommending a treatment plan. Some treatments may have more risks and side effects for older patients or those with preexisting health conditions.
  • Location and size of the tumor: The location and size of the tumor can affect which treatments may be most effective. For example, if the tumor is large and pressing against other organs, surgery may not be recommended.
  • Personal preferences: Ultimately, the decision on which treatment to pursue should be based on your personal preferences and beliefs. Discuss your options with your doctor and consider seeking a second opinion to help you make an informed decision.

Supportive Care for Mesothelioma Patients

Along with medical treatments, supportive care is an essential part of managing mesothelioma and improving quality of life for patients. This may include symptom management, emotional support, and practical assistance. Here are some ways that supportive care can benefit mesothelioma patients:

Symptom Management

Mesothelioma and its treatments can cause a range of symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Supportive care can help manage these symptoms and provide relief for patients. This may involve medication, alternative therapies, or lifestyle changes. Physical therapy and occupational therapy may also be beneficial in helping patients maintain their strength and independence.

Emotional Support

A mesothelioma diagnosis can take a toll on both the patient and their loved ones. It is important to seek emotional support from friends, family, or support groups during this difficult time. Counseling or therapy may also be helpful in addressing any fears, anxiety, or depression that may arise.

Practical Assistance

As mesothelioma progresses, it may become challenging for patients to carry out daily tasks and take care of themselves. Supportive care can involve practical assistance, such as meal delivery, transportation to appointments, and home care services. These services can help alleviate some of the burdens and allow patients to focus on their treatment and well-being.

Tips for Finding the Best Treatment Center

Finding the best treatment center for mesothelioma can be a daunting task, but it is crucial for ensuring you receive the best care possible. Here are some tips to help you find a reputable and experienced treatment center:

  • Research and compare: Do your research and compare different treatment centers in your area. Look for centers that specialize in mesothelioma and have a track record of success in treating the disease.
  • Ask for recommendations: Talk to your doctor, friends, or support groups for recommendations on treatment centers. Hearing about others’ experiences can give you valuable insights.
  • Consider distance: While it may be tempting to travel far for treatment, consider the distance and logistics involved, especially if you need frequent follow-up appointments. It may be more convenient to find a treatment center closer to home.
  • Check credentials and accreditations: Make sure the treatment center and its staff have the necessary qualifications, training, and experience in treating mesothelioma. You can also check if the center is accredited by recognized organizations such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI) or the Commission on Cancer (CoC).
  • Look into clinical trials: If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, look for treatment centers that are actively conducting studies on mesothelioma.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions: When researching treatment centers, don’t hesitate to ask questions about their experience, success rates, and treatment plans. A good treatment center will be open and transparent in providing this information.

Conclusion and Resources for Further Information

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that requires specialized treatment. The best treatment option for you will depend on various factors, including the type and stage of cancer, your overall health, and personal preferences. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and clinical trials are some of the treatment options available for mesothelioma patients.

When choosing a treatment, it is important to consider your specific situation and seek the advice of medical professionals. Supportive care, such as symptom management, emotional support, and practical assistance, can also play a crucial role in managing mesothelioma and improving quality of life.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is essential to seek treatment from a reputable and experienced treatment center. Do your research, ask for recommendations, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. With the right treatment and support, it is possible to manage mesothelioma and improve outcomes.

For further information on mesothelioma, its treatment options, and resources for support, you can visit the following websites:

  • Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (
  • American Cancer Society (
  • National Cancer Institute (

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *