Treatment Options for Mesothelioma

Treatment for mesothelioma depends upon many variables, including where the cancer is, what stage the it is in, and how extensively it has spread.

People who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are often told that their expected survival rate is twelve months or less. This is not necessarily correct. Dr. David Sugarbaker, Brigham and Women's Center in Boston, Massachusetts, reports a nearly 40% five-year survival rate, though one of the criteria for entering  his treatment is that the patient be in the early stages.

Traditional Care

Treatment for mesothelioma depends upon where the cancer is, the stage of the disease, the patient' general health. There are three types of standard treatment for patients with malignant mesothelioma: chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Sometimes the various treatments are combined.


Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancerous cells. Most drugs used in mesothelioma treatment are administered intravenously. To relieve pain and symptoms , the doctor may put a thin tube or needle to drain fluid which has built up in the area of the mesothelioma. Drugs may also be administered through a tube in the chest to prevent accumulation of more fluid.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is sometimes called 'radiotherapy.' Radiation therapy uses very high-energy rays to kill the cancerous cells in the treated area. It may be accomplished by putting radiation-producing materials through tubes directly into the site or by using a machine externally.

Surgery, a common treatment for mesothelioma, is when the doctor removes part of the affected lining and some of the tissue around it. For pleural mesothelioma (cancer of the pleura), a lung may be removed. Sometimes part of the diaphragm is also removed.


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