Stage 3 Mesothelioma Treatment
Stage 3 malignant mesothelioma treatment may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or new treatments through clinical trials.
The optimal treatment approach for stage 3 patients whose mesothelioma has not spread too far to be surgically removed is a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Patients who cannot undergo surgery often receive chemotherapy alone.
Stage 3 mesothelioma is often not able to be operated on because the tumor has spread too far for surgeons to effectively remove it. However, some stage 3 tumors may be able to be surgically removed so that no visible parts of the tumors remain.
By undergoing mesothelioma surgery, especially when paired with chemotherapy and/or radiation, patients may live for several more months or even years.
However, even stage 3 patients whose cancer is still fairly contained may not be good candidates for surgery.
Doctors may consider the following factors to decide if a patient can undergo surgery:
- Stage: Small, localized tumors are easier to surgically remove.
- Cell type: Only epithelioid and mixed/biphasic cell tumors are resectable.
- Location: If a tumor is too close to a vital organ, it may be too dangerous to surgically remove it.
- Patient health: Mesothelioma surgery can be risky and taxing on a patient’s body. Doctors will carefully consider a patient’s health to decide how likely they are to survive or properly recover from an operation.
If a patient is a good surgery candidate, they have a few options depending on their type of mesothelioma and their doctor’s recommendations.
Stage 3 mesothelioma surgery options may include:
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) for pleural mesothelioma
- Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) for pleural mesothelioma
- Cytoreduction with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) for peritoneal mesothelioma
After surgery, some cancer cells remain. For this reason, doctors usually treat patients with chemotherapy and/or radiation to destroy remaining cells.
Chemotherapy involves intravenous administration of drugs that destroy cancer cells. It is a popular standalone treatment option for stage 3 mesothelioma patients since most cannot undergo surgery.
Doctors may use chemotherapy on stage 3 mesothelioma patients to:
- Treat patients who cannot undergo surgery
- Stop cancer cells from spreading before, during, or after surgery
- Destroy cancer cells doctors cannot surgically remove
While mesothelioma chemotherapy and surgery may be an effective treatment combination for some stage 3 mesothelioma patients, a three-treatment approach of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation may lead to the best results for both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma patients.
During radiation therapy, doctors use high-energy rays to target the DNA of cancer cells, destroying them. For stage 3 mesothelioma patients able to undergo surgery, it may be used as part of a multi-treatment approach.
Radiation therapy may also be used with chemotherapy for many stage 3 patients. This combination may increase each therapy’s effectiveness at destroying cancer cells in the original tumor site and cells that may have spread to other parts of the body.
Radiation therapy may help treat stage 3 mesothelioma by:
- Killing cells that remain after surgery
- Making surgery easier by shrinking tumors beforehand
- Slowing the return of cancer after surgery
While a three-treatment approach may be the most helpful option for stage 3 mesothelioma patients who can undergo surgery, other treatment options are available for the many who are not able to receive standard treatment.
Other Treatment Options
For stage 3 mesothelioma patients who are not ideal candidates for standard treatments, experimental therapies through clinical trials may prove helpful.
Clinical trials test emerging treatments to improve those currently available for a certain condition.
Emerging mesothelioma treatments may include:
- Gene therapy
- Photodynamic therapy
Patients should keep the stage of their mesothelioma in mind when searching for clinical trials since many restrict patients by cancer stage.