Specialists have developed effective treatments for pleural mesothelioma. The hope for increased life expectancy is much higher today compared to 20 years ago thanks to new methods and approaches to treating even late-stage patients.
Standard treatments include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and palliative treatment.
For treatments to be most effective, plans must involve:
- Experienced pathologists capable of accurately diagnosing the cancer type
- Multidisciplinary teams of specialists across a range of medical fields
- Highly skilled surgeons who specialize in removing pleural tumors
As part of treatment, patients may be eligible for surgeries. Surgeries can either fully or partially remove tumors and improve survival.
The 2 standard surgeries are:
- Extrapleural Pneumonectomy: Surgeons remove the diseased lung, pleura, lymph nodes, pericardium and part of the diaphragm. Patients can live with only one lung, but it may decrease the quality of life for some.
- Pleurectomy With Decortication: During a less radical surgery, surgeons remove the diseased pleura and all visible tumors nearby. Though this procedure allows patients to keep their lung, there’s debate over whether or not it leads to higher rates of recurrence (when cancer comes back).
Most patients also undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy or both. These anti-cancer treatments help shrink tumors and kill off remaining microscopic mesothelioma cells left behind after surgery.
Patients should seek treatment from a specialist for their best chance at survival. General oncologists do not have the experience necessary to effectively treat mesothelioma. It’s a rare cancer, and most doctors only see 1 or 2 cases in their careers. Since the disease affects each person differently, personalized treatment plans from experienced specialists are vital.
By seeing a specialist, you’ll be treated by an entire team of mesothelioma experts who have dedicated their careers to researching and treating this disease.
Treatment teams include thoracic surgeons and medical and radiation oncologists who can provide the latest treatment technologies and approaches.
The U.S. has many of the world’s top specialists, including:
- Dr. Robert Cameron — Thoracic Surgical Oncologist, UCLA Medical Center, and Los Angeles VA, Los Angeles CA
- Dr. Anne Tsao — Thoracic Medical Oncologist, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston TX
Mesothelioma can only be accurately diagnosed by a specialist. If you’ve received a diagnosis from a general oncologist, then it’s crucial to get a second opinion from a pleural mesothelioma specialist.
A second opinion can either confirm your diagnosis or provide you with a different one, which will alter your treatment plan.
It’s common for pleural mesothelioma to be misdiagnosed as another type of cancer. To avoid wasted time, be sure to contact a mesothelioma specialist immediately before starting on any treatment plan.