Mesothelioma Remission

Until a cure is discovered, patients with mesothelioma require various cancer treatments to control their disease and experience the best quality of life possible.

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What Is Mesothelioma Remission?

When a patient reaches a point after treatment when there is a disappearance of their cancer, the patient is said to be in remission. This remission is the goal for patients with mesothelioma.

While the disease has a worse prognosis than other types of cancer, many patients have seen success with treatment and have achieved mesothelioma remission.

Full Remission

As with any cancer, there are two types of remission: full and partial. Full (or complete) remission would mean that all symptoms are now gone and any sign of remaining cancer in the body has vanished.

While complete remission in mesothelioma patients is rare, it is possible. It is important to note that when a patient achieves a full mesothelioma remission it could feel as if the patient is ‘cured’ from cancer, but there can be no guarantee that the cancer will never return.

While at the current instance the doctor may no longer be able to detect cancer cells, there may still be some extremely small microscopic cells in the body after treatment.

Partial Remission

Partial remission describes a significant improvement in the patient’s cancer but not a complete disappearance.

A patient will likely see a remarkable improvement in their symptoms and will, therefore, feel much better if they have achieved partial remission through mesothelioma treatment. The doctor will be able to see a significant depletion of the tumors and cancer cells in the patient’s body.

Pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma is difficult to treat as most patients receive a diagnosis and will then begin treatment after the disease has developed past the first stage.

Many patients may find that they would benefit from a palliative outcome of treatment, an action to help them feel better as well as providing them with a better quality of life. For other patients, there is the goal that a blend of treatments will help them achieve partial remission.

Regardless of the patient’s reasoning behind treatment, partial remission will enable them to physically feel better and will extend and improve their lives.

Factors Affecting Mesothelioma Remission

Surgery

Surgery is the best option to achieve mesothelioma remission.

During mesothelioma surgery, the surgeon will remove the cancer lining the organs and may often combine this physical extraction with treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy to increase the success and the potential for remission.

Patients with stage 1 or stage 2 mesothelioma diagnoses are often eligible for surgery that could possibly extend their life if mesothelioma remission is achieved.

Below, learn more about some of the most common types of surgeries for mesothelioma patients.

Palliative

Any surgery that is aimed at symptom relief is referred to as palliative. Typically, palliative surgeries are for patients in the late stages of mesothelioma who may not be eligible for surgeries aimed at complete cancer removal.

However, patients in the early stages of mesothelioma can also benefit from palliative surgery.

Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D)

Pleurectomy/decortication is a lung surgery that removes the cancerous lining and any tumors on the surface of the lung. Surgeons may often combine the P/D with intraoperative radiation to remove remaining mesothelioma cells.

Cytoreduction With HIPEC

Peritoneal mesothelioma patients are eligible for cytoreduction with HIPEC (heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy), wherein the surgeon will remove the cancerous lining of the abdomen and any surrounding tumors.

Following this, HIPEC is conducted to remove the remaining mesothelioma cells.

Pericardiectomy

Pericardiectomy is surgery intended for patients with pericardial mesothelioma, whereby the surgeon will remove the cancerous lining of the heart and any surrounding tumors that are visible.

Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP)

For patients with pleural mesothelioma, extrapleural pneumonectomy may be the best surgical option to remove the cancerous lung and any surrounding tissue.

Surgeons may often combine the EPP with intraoperative chemotherapy as this aims to extend the patient’s lifespan.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, your doctor will be able to provide your eligibility for surgery and detail the best procedure for you.

Multimodal Therapy

While individual treatments can affect patients positively — perhaps leading to remission — doctors often will achieve more favorable results by combining multiple treatments that will monitor, control, and remove the cancerous cells.

Multimodal therapy is the combination of more than one type of treatment and has been found to improve the rates of survival and quality of life for patients. The patients must be eligible, however, for this relatively aggressive mesothelioma treatment approach.

Did You Know?

Multimodal treatment often focuses on a surgery that will remove the tumor, with chemotherapy and radiation conducted prior, during, or following the surgery.

Cytoreductive abdominal surgery combined with HIPEC has been named as the most effective treatment approach for peritoneal mesothelioma patients, granted that they are eligible for these treatments and their overall health is robust enough to undergo therapy.

For pleural mesothelioma patients, there is no one treatment plan that triumphs the others at this time. The treatment will depend on each patient’s individual situation and can be discussed with the doctors caring for them.

It should be noted that multimodal treatment is considered an aggressive form of cancer treatment and not all mesothelioma patients are candidates for or will qualify as candidates for such an approach.

Such treatments always come with risks, but it is also important to remember that there are many mesothelioma and other cancer survivors that have extended their lifespan for years beyond the initial prognosis due to such treatments.

Clinical Trials

A clinical trial is conducted to discover new and improved treatments for cancer and consists of several phases.

During the early phases, clinical trials examine the safety of the new treatment and common side effects will be identified.

During the latter stages of the clinical trials, specialists will test the effectiveness of this new treatment over existing treatments to determine if it should be reviewed by the FDA for potential approval as a new standard of care.

When medical specialists discover that a new treatment is working, the clinical trial will often continue.

Research and testing in cancer have found that there are often opportunities to improve effective treatments even further, sometimes by modifying doses or combining it with other forms of treatment.

Did You Know?

There are generally three phases of clinical trials, though some will have an earlier stage zero and some will have a fourth stage conducted following the license of the medication.

It is also worth remembering that not every clinical trial will examine specific medications or drugs. Many clinical trials will examine surgery and radiotherapy treatments, as well as lifestyle effects, support, and care provided.

What Is Mesothelioma Recurrence?

There is the risk that some mesothelioma survivors will experience a recurrence of their cancer after a period of apparent remission where no cancer was detected.

There is currently no method to estimate or predict with certainty which, if any, patients will experience this return of mesothelioma or when it could happen.

Because of this uncertainty, it is recommended for mesothelioma patients to follow through with their medical appointments and remain aware of any symptoms of recurrence.

If the patient experiences mesothelioma recurrence, it is often with the same symptoms they experienced in the first instance.

Treatment for mesothelioma recurrence, however, will often be different — particularly if the patient has already undergone surgery initially.

Some treatments that may be recommended for mesothelioma recurrence could be first-line or second-line chemotherapy or a novel biological therapy that is available through a clinical trial.

Importance of Mesothelioma Follow-Up Appointments

When a patient has achieved remission, it is essential that they continue attending their scheduled follow-up appointments. This will enable the mesothelioma specialist to monitor for and catch any symptoms of mesothelioma recurrence early.

Once mesothelioma is in remission, it is considered as a chronic and managed disease such as diabetes that can be monitored regularly.

The schedule and frequency of the follow-up appointment will vary from patient to patient, but generally, the more advanced the cancer, the more frequent the visits will be required.

What You Can Do to Achieve Mesothelioma Remission

It is the goal of mesothelioma patients to achieve remission. There are several actions that can aid the medical measures even further and allow you to feel better in the meantime.

Take Charge of Your Own Health

Patients have the opportunity to be proactive and take measures to help improve their mesothelioma prognosis.

While patients cannot change factors such as their age, mesothelioma type or phase, they have the option to improve their overall health by not smoking and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.

A strong factor is maintaining exercise and strength, as research has demonstrated that physical activity can alleviate the side effects from treatment such as pain and stiffness, as well as fatigue.

Even gentle, light activity such as walks and yoga will help patients to sleep better and will aid in the reduction of anxiety and stress.

Overall, the physical and mental health will be in a better state to undergo mesothelioma treatments while enabling the patient to feel better in general.

Get a Second Opinion

While there are standards across treatment and care for mesothelioma, the research and experiences of specialists may vary and there may be multiple methods preferred when treating a patient. As mesothelioma is a rare cancer, the treatment continuously develops and changes.

Having more than one mesothelioma specialist collaborate on the patient’s diagnosis and treatment can be beneficial and can help pinpoint the best possible treatment even further.

Undergo Surgery

Surgery can be highly integral to the treatment and potential remission of mesothelioma as it will confirm the diagnosis, evaluate the tumor and any spread, and will remove or reduce the amount of the cancer.

Surgery will help to alleviate the symptoms and pain the patient is experiencing, therein enhancing the quality of their life and potentially their lifespan. Not all patients will qualify, however, for surgery.

Be sure to discuss with your doctor if this is an appropriate treatment for your cancer.

Participate in Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are how medicines and treatments get approved and become standard of care.

It is through clinical trials that medical advances are made to improve our knowledge and understanding of medical conditions and identify effective treatments.

Clinical trials can assist in:

  • Preventing new cancer by testing a vaccine
  • Detecting or diagnosing cancer by testing a scan or blood test
  • Treating illnesses through testing new or existing medicines
  • Discovering how to best provide mental and emotional support
  • Discovering how patients may control their symptoms or improve their quality of life by examining how a particular diet affects the disease

If you would like more information and support on achieving and maintaining remission, please contact us. One of our Patient Advocates will be able to answer questions and help support you in obtaining the treatment you deserve.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Reviewed by:Dr. Assuntina Sacco

Board-Certified Oncologist

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Assuntina Sacco, MD is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Moores Cancer Center, where she also serves as the Medical Director of Infusion Services. She is a board-certified medical oncologist trained to treat all solid tumor types, with the use of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and clinical trials.

Dr. Assuntina Sacco is an independently paid medical reviewer.

Stephanie KiddWritten by:

Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie Kidd grew up in a family of civil servants, blue-collar workers, and medical caregivers. Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from Stetson University, she began her career specializing in worker safety regulations and communications. Now, a proud member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Cancer Network, Stephanie serves as a voice for mesothelioma victims and their families.

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