Mesothelioma Treatments by Stage
When it comes to deciding options for mesothelioma treatment, the stage of a patient’s mesothelioma plays a major role. It may determine if the cancer is resectable and influence whether an individual is healthy enough to undergo major surgery or other invasive cancer treatments.
Depending on the extent of the mesothelioma, the patient’s personal wishes, and other factors, doctors may focus mesothelioma treatment on curative or palliative options.
Stage 1 Mesothelioma Treatment
According to the ACS, doctors do not always immediately begin treatment on individuals with very early-stage cancer.
Doctors may recommend closely watching mesothelioma instead of treating it if it is:
- At an early stage
- Not causing symptoms
- Developing slowly
If the cancer begins growing more quickly or starts to cause symptoms, doctors will begin treatment.
Stage 1 mesothelioma may be treated with:
In most cases, stage 1 pleural mesothelioma is potentially resectable. However, many factors may influence a patient’s eligibility for mesothelioma surgery, including their cancer cell type, the location of the tumors, and the patient’s overall health.
Stage 2 Mesothelioma Treatment
Many stage 2 mesothelioma patients are also good candidates for curative surgery, as the cancer has not spread far into the tissues.
As with stage 1, treatment for stage 2 mesothelioma includes:
Surgery may be especially beneficial for early-stage mesothelioma patients. According to the ACS, “surgery is more likely to have long-term benefits in early-stage cancers, where there’s a better chance that most or all of the cancer can be removed.”
Stage 3 Mesothelioma Treatment
Stage 3 mesothelioma may be more difficult to treat, especially stage 3B. Many cases of stage 3 mesothelioma are no longer resectable, lowering a patient’s life expectancy.
However, some stage 3 patients are still good candidates for curative surgery.
While the ACS reports that mesothelioma doctors do not agree on the effectiveness of chemotherapy or radiation therapy for mesothelioma, they are often used as the main treatments for patients who cannot undergo surgery and may extend life or relieve symptoms.
Stage 4 Mesothelioma Treatment
Stage 4 mesothelioma cannot be removed completely with surgery because the cancer is no longer contained to one area.
Mesothelioma chemotherapy is usually the main treatment for stage 4 mesothelioma patients, relieving symptoms and potentially shrinking or slowing the cancer’s growth.
According to the ACS, “surgery may also be helpful for some later-stage cancers, but the benefits are more likely to last only a short time.”
Because curative treatment for stage 4 mesothelioma is often limited, patients may benefit from newer treatments or experimental treatments through clinical trials.
Other stage 4 mesothelioma treatments may include:
- Tumor Treating Fields (TTF)
- Targeted therapy
Although these treatments may help people live longer, they are highly unlikely to cure mesothelioma.
Patients may also seek palliative treatment — treatment conducted in order to reduce the pain and discomfort caused by mesothelioma, rather than extend life.
Palliative stage 4 mesothelioma treatments may include:
- Medication: May help relieve pain
- Pleurodesis: May reduce fluid buildup
- Radiation: May help shrink tumors, relieving pain
- Thoracentesis/paracentesis: May reduce fluid buildup
As their mesothelioma progresses, patients should let their doctor know if they are experiencing any pain or discomfort so that they can remain as comfortable as possible.