Stage 1 Mesothelioma Treatment
Stage 1 mesothelioma patients are usually good candidates for curative mesothelioma treatments — medical procedures performed to extend a patient’s life.
In general, stage 1 patients are good candidates for mesothelioma surgery. At this stage, surgeons are usually able to completely remove all visible parts of a tumor.
However, many factors may influence whether a patient is a candidate for surgery:
- Stage: Tumors that are relatively small and contained in one area (localized) are more likely able to be surgically removed.
- Cell type: Many doctors believe only epithelioid and mixed/biphasic cell types may be resectable.
- Location: Tumors that form close to vital organs may be too risky to remove through surgery.
- Patient health: Surgery for mesothelioma can be dangerous and incredibly taxing on the body. Even if a patient is diagnosed early, if they are in poor health, surgery may not be offered as it would be unsafe.
Common stage 1 mesothelioma surgery options include:
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP)
- Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D)
- Cytoreduction with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)
Although surgery is often effective for stage 1 patients, it may leave behind cancer cells that are not visible to surgeons. These cells quickly re-form tumors. As such, most doctors will also recommend chemotherapy or radiation to destroy the remaining cancer.
Chemotherapy, a type of cancer treatment that uses special drugs to kill cancer cells, is often used alongside surgery in stage 1 mesothelioma treatment.
Chemotherapy may be used for stage 1 mesothelioma treatment to:
- Prevent mesothelioma cells from spreading before, during, or after surgery
- Kill off remaining cancer cells left behind after surgery
Many patients respond well to a combination of surgery and chemotherapy, potentially remaining disease-free for several months and surviving for years after treatment.
A 2015 study published in the journal Surgical Oncology reported that 19 peritoneal mesothelioma patients who underwent chemotherapy and surgery had a 100% 1-year survival rate and a 91% 3-year survival rate.
Radiation, a therapy that uses radiation to control or kill cancer cells, is sometimes used to treat mesothelioma.
Radiation therapy may be used for stage 1 mesothelioma treatment to:
- Kill remaining cells at the tumor site after surgery
- Shrink tumors to make surgery easier
- Prevent mesothelioma cells from being spread around the body during surgery
Before performing an EPP, mesothelioma specialists often use a practice called Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy (SMART). This approach seems to be effective at extending patient life.
A 2014 25-patient study published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology found that, of the pleural mesothelioma epithelial cell type patients who underwent SMART, 84% had a 3-year survival rate.
Other Treatment Options
Stage 1 mesothelioma patients in good health usually turn to traditional treatment options to get the best results.
However, not all patients diagnosed early are good candidates for curative treatment options. These individuals may turn to clinical trials and the emerging therapies they offer in hopes of extending their lives.
Some emerging mesothelioma treatments include:
- Gene therapy
- Photodynamic therapy
Patients seeking clinical trials should be aware of their cancer’s stage since many trials only test treatments on patients whose mesothelioma has progressed a certain amount.