Many people in California and around the United States are suffering from a deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma. The most common cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, and much of the asbestos exposure occurs at people's job sites.
Many treatment options are available for those with mesothelioma and it is important for patients with any type of cancer to carefully go over all of their options with their physicians.
Typical considerations involved in the treatment process include:
- The type of mesothelioma: Mesothelioma can develop in a person's lungs, heart lining or stomach. Different combinations of treatment may be more appropriate given the particular type of mesothelioma a person is diagnosed with.
- The individual: A person's preferences, medical history, and ability to cope with the physical and mental stress of a particular treatment are often relevant to what course a physician will recommend.
- The stage of mesothelioma: Many mesothelioma cases are not caught until the cancer has spread throughout the body. More aggressive forms of treatment may be necessary if the cancer has spread to vital organs.
For patients with late-stage mesothelioma, treatment options may solely be to alleviate symptoms associated with the cancer and improve a patient's quality of life. Possible treatment options include surgery to remove tumors, chemotherapy to prolong survival and radiation to stop the growth of tumors.
There used to be a widespread belief that radiation, or radiotherapy, was not an effective way to treat pleural mesothelioma. Australian researchers have recently found that high-dose radiotherapy was effective in at least some patients, with the best response rates being in individuals who have mesothelioma confined to one part of their chest.
"Many believe mesothelioma to be radio-resistant and that toxicity is prohibitive if high doses are given with the affected lung in situ," one of the researchers said. "Our experience provides clear evidence that radiation is arguably the most effective single agent for mesothelioma and new technologies, including intensity-modulated radiotherapy, allow high doses to be delivered safely."
Before starting any course of mesothelioma treatment, it is important for a patient to consult with a physician and consider all of his or her options and the associated risks.