Skip to main content
 

Standard Treatments

Surgery

The following procedures may be used for malignant mesothelioma:

Wide Local Excision - Surgery to remove the cancer and some of the healthy tissue around it.

Pleurectomy and Decortication - Surgery to remove part of the covering of the lungs and lining of the chest and part of the outside surface of the lungs.

Extrapleural Pneumonectomy - Surgery to remove one whole lung and part of the lining of the chest, the diaphragm, and the lining of the sac around the heart.

Pleurodesis - A surgical procedure that uses chemicals or drugs to make a scar in the space between the layers of the pleura. Fluid is first drained from the space using a catheter or chest tube and the chemical or drug is put into the space. The scarring stops the build-up of fluid in the pleural cavity.

Debulking - The goal of this surgery is to remove as much of the mesothelioma as possible. In general, less tissue is removed in this operation than in a Pleurectomy/Decortication procedure.

Even if the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

Side Effects from Treatment

It helps to learn more about the side effects from your treatment(s) before you begin, so you will know what to expect and talk with your health care team to manage your quality of life during and after treatment.

Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to treatment and experiences side effects differently. There are coping mechanisms and strategies that can help.

Radiation Therapy

Side effects of external radiation therapy may include skin changes, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, painful sores in the mouth and throat and dry mouth or thick saliva.

Most side effects of radiation are temporary, but some rare serious side effects can be permanent. In some cases, radiation to the chest can also cause lung damage, which may lead to problems breathing and shortness of breath.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy has different side effects depending on the type and dose of drugs given and the length of time they are taken. These side effects can include hair loss, mouth sores, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, increased chance of infections (due to low white blood cell counts), easy bruising or bleeding (due to low blood platelet counts) and fatigue (due to low red blood cell counts.)