Usually associated with exposure to asbestos, Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that primarily develops in the lungs. Mesothelioma has no known cure and has a very poor prognosis. Doctors offer three primary types of treatment to mesothelioma patients: Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
The types of treatment you receive depend on your diagnosis, the stage and type of your mesothelioma and your overall health.
If the cancer has not yet spread, a combination of radiation, surgery and chemotherapy likely will be offered to you. This combined approach to treatment is called multimodal therapy.
If the mesothelioma already has spread significantly, doctors typically recommend palliative treatments that can help alleviate pain, breathing problems and other cancer symptoms that lessen your quality of life. You are still likely to be offered radiation and chemotherapy, but probably not major surgery options.
Radiation therapy can soothe pain and correct breathing issues by shrinking tumors that press on your nerves, veins and airways. Chemotherapy also shrinks tumors, helping with chest pain and night sweats. Non-curative surgeries can remove tumors that cause troublesome symptoms, or drain fluid that builds up in the chest or abdomen.
You may also want to talk to your doctor about other treatment options beyond surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Experimental treatments exist, mostly in clinical trials, and sometimes they can make a huge difference.
Some patients also pursue alternative treatments like massage therapy, acupuncture or yoga. These can often be added to standard treatments like chemotherapy, so talk with your doctor about which therapies you'd like to explore.