Epithelioid Mesothelioma Treatment
An important factor that affects mesothelioma prognosis and survival times is treatment. Fortunately, epithelioid mesothelioma cells are more responsive to treatments than the other cell types, according to Moffitt Cancer Center.
Like all forms of this cancer, epithelial mesothelioma is typically treated using surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Treatments can vary depending on the patient’s needs, but generally speaking, a combination of these treatments will be used.
Below, get a breakdown of each type of mesothelioma treatment.
Through chemotherapy, patients intravenously receive drugs that kill cancerous cells and tumors.
Common chemotherapy drugs for mesothelioma include:
Epithelioid mesothelioma cells often respond better to chemotherapy due to their slower growth rate, according to ASCO.
Multiple rounds of mesothelioma chemotherapy may be needed to get a good response.
Doctors may also use radiation therapy to prevent epithelioid mesothelioma cells from dividing.
Mesothelioma radiation therapy is administered by a machine that delivers high-energy electrons to the tumor site, which causes the cells to die and the tumors to shrink.
According to the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, radiation may be used to supplement a surgery or as a main course of treatment if surgery is not an option.
Surgery is often an effective way to treat mesothelioma because removing tumors prevents the spread of the cancer and leaves less of it for other treatments to impact.
If the epithelial mesothelioma cells develop in the lining of the lungs, patients may qualify for one of several types of surgeries.
These surgeries include:
Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP)
This surgery removes cancerous tumors in the affected lung, pleura (lung lining), diaphragm, and lymph nodes. This extensive operation is mainly used on patients if the epithelioid mesothelioma has not begun to spread, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
Pleurectomy with Decortication (P/D)
This surgery removes cancerous tumors, the pleura, and diaphragm closest to the mesothelioma tumors, but does not remove the lung. This can allow patients to recover with a lower risk of extreme complications.
An EPP is not usually recommended if the cancer has advanced throughout the body or if the patient has other health problems, but a P/D may still be an option in some cases.
Other mesothelioma surgeries may be used to remove cancerous tumors and organ linings if the cancer develops in the peritoneum (abdomen lining) or pericardium (heart lining).
For example, patients with peritoneal epithelioid mesothelioma may receive cytoreduction surgery with HIPEC. Through this surgery, doctors remove all visible cancer tumors and then bathe the peritoneum with heated chemotherapy drugs.
Multimodal Therapy and Survival Times
When the mesothelioma treatments above are combined, it is known as multimodal therapy. Research has shown that multimodal therapy can help improve the long-term survival rates of patients with epithelial mesothelioma.
For example, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute studied the lifespans of patients who underwent EPPs and received adjuvant (supplemental) radiation and chemotherapy.
Patients with epithelioid mesothelioma lived longer than those with other cell types, as 65% were still alive after 2 years, and 27% were alive after 5 years.
To learn if you’re eligible for compensation to help pay for treatment, get a free case review.
Outside of the standard treatment options listed above, patients with epithelioid mesothelioma may qualify for new treatments through clinical trials.
For example, upcoming treatment options (such as new drugs or treatment combinations) are tested in mesothelioma clinical trials with the hopes of improving survival rates and finding a cure.
Patients interested in joining a clinical trial should speak with their doctor. Clinical trials have strict requirements depending on what is being studied, so not every patient will qualify.