If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you’re probably looking for answers. And while it can be difficult to find reliable information or options, there are treatments that can help. In this article, we’ll explore some of them.
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The Bleak Outlook for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that occurs in the very thin layer of tissue covering internal organs (known as mesothelium). It’s aggressive and deadly, often taking decades to develop into noticeable symptoms but usually fatal within one year of diagnosis.
According to Mayo Clinic, “Doctors divide mesothelioma into numerous types depending on whether part of the mesothelium is affected. The tissue surrounding the lungs, known as the pleura, is most often damaged by mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the name for this kind. Peritoneal mesothelioma, the heart, and the testicles are three other, less common kinds of mesothelioma that affect tissue in the abdomen.”
The signs and symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on the kind, however as pleural mesothelioma accounts for 80% of instances, they are frequently extremely similar. They consist of lumps of tissue under the skin, shortness of breath, harsh coughing, chest discomfort, and unexplained weight loss.
According to MesotheliomaGuide.com, “The mesothelioma disease has four phases. Based on prior research and data, each stage has a general prognosis, or life expectancy. Stage 3 is when most instances of mesothelioma are discovered.”
- Stage 1: Cancer has developed within the lining, but organs and lymph nodes have yet to be affected. Surgery is the best treatment option. Life expectancy is 20 months.
- Stage 2: The tumors have spread beyond the lining and nearby organs and lymph nodes are officially at risk. Though trickier, surgery is still an option. Life expectancy is around 19 months.
- Stage 3: Cancer is no longer localized. Lymph nodes have been impacted and surgery may require removing the lung. Life expectancy is 16 months.
- Stage 4: Cancer has reached numerous organs and areas of the body. Severe pain is present and surgery is no longer practical. Life expectancy is around 11 months.
4 Tips and Treatment Options
As you can see, mesothelioma progresses fast once it reaches stage one. And the problem is that very few people know there’s an issue until it reaches stage one.
While it’s entirely dependent on when the disease is detected and the state you’re in, here are some different tips and treatment options that may help:
Depending on the location and stage of the cancer, surgery can be performed to remove the tumor or, in some cases, the entire organ affected. For pleural mesothelioma, this might involve removing part or all of a lung.
Because mesothelioma often spreads to nearby tissues and organs, it can be challenging to remove the entire tumor through surgery. And depending on the stage the cancer is in and how far it has spread, it may not even be practical to perform surgery. Most patients are no longer viable surgical candidates by the time they’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
2. Chemotherapy & Radiation
Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that employs strong medications to either kill or limit the development of cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be used for mesothelioma before surgery to reduce tumour size, after surgery to eradicate any cancer cells that remained, or as the main course of treatment for patients who cannot undergo surgery. In other cases, radiation is another choice.
3. Liquid Biopsy
This is a non-invasive test that examines the genetic material in a sample of blood to detect cancer cells or DNA fragments from cancer cells. For mesothelioma patients, liquid biopsy can detect specific biomarkers related to the disease, helping to confirm a diagnosis or assess disease progression.
4. Advanced Imaging Techniques
Technologies like positron emission tomography (PET), computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been enhanced with better imaging software, offering more precise images of tumors. These advancements help doctors determine the exact size and location of mesothelioma tumors and assess whether the cancer has spread.
Adding it All Up
You may be diagnosed with mesothelioma, but that doesn’t mean you can give up. With a variety of treatment options available, it’s important that you move swiftly in identifying and implementing the ones that give you the best chance at an improved quality of life. Speak with your doctor to develop a game plan.