Mesothelioma is a very rare and deadly asbestos cancer, for which no cure has yet been found. A number of alternative and traditional mesothelioma treatment options have been developed to help contain the spread of the disease and prolong life.
Meanwhile, successful mesothelioma treatment options are still being explored and investigated by mesothelioma clinics and medical research groups.
Traditional mesothelioma treatment options include:
A pleurectomy is the surgical removal of the pleura (lining of the lung affected by mesothelioma).
It is one type of mesothelioma surgery for pleural mesothelioma and is known as a radical pleurectomy and decortification (P/D). A medical debate exists about whether a P/D is more beneficial for patients than an extra pleural pneumonectomy (EPP)1.
A pneumonectomy is surgical removal of the lung and pleura. It is another alternative for pleural mesothelioma treatment and is known as extra pleural pneumonectomy (EPP)2.
The EPP involves the following steps:
- Incision and exposure of the pleura (parietal);
- Dissection of the tumor and parietal pleura from the chest wall, diaphragm, and mediastinum;
- Division and control of the pulmonary vessels and bronchus followed by lymph node dissection;
- Resection of the lung, pleura, pericardium, and diaphragm;
- Reconstruction of the pericardium and diaphragm.
Gastrointestinal debulking is surgical removal of a tumor from the gastrointestinal tract. It is one of the most common types of traditional mesothelioma treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma. It is followed by post-surgical intraperitoneal chemotherapy.
With this procedure, a heated chemotherapy agent is directly administered into the peritoneal space immediately after the debulking portion of the surgery3.
One of the leading hospitals in this new approach and alternative to treating peritoneal mesothelioma is The Columbia University Mesothelioma Center in New York City.
Recent development of mesothelioma treatment options includes successful chemotherapeutic agents such as Alimta and Cisplatin.
Currently, Alimta and Cisplatin are the only prescription drugs to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as alternative mesothelioma treatments for malignant pleural mesothelioma patients. In studies, such as those published in the July 2006 issue of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, patients who took Alimta (pemetrexed) with or without Cisplatin – a widely used platinum-containing chemotherapy drug – demonstrated a marked improvement in their condition.
Manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company, Alimta impedes the enzymes that cancer cells require to reproduce. While, Alimta and Cisplatin will not cleanse cancer from the body, these pleural mesothelioma medications may extend a patient’s life.
It is essential that before patients begin taking Alimta and Cisplatin they notify their mesothelioma doctor if they are taking ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat pain or arthritis and if they have kidney problems.
Alimta/Cisplatin patients should take 350 to 1000 micrograms of folic acid per day, for five days, the week before they begin treatment. This should continue until 21 days after the last cycle of Alimta. Patients should also take dexamethasone, a steroid medication, to curb the risk of adverse effects. Unless a mesothelioma doctor recommends differently, dexamethasone should be taken twice per day, on the day before, the day of, and the day after Alimta treatment.
Radiation therapy is usually used in conjunction with surgery and/or chemotherapy. It attacks cancer cells through the use of high-energy X-rays. Different types of radiation that are used to treat malignant mesothelioma include:
- External beam radiation therapy;
- Adjuvant radiation therapy;
- Palliative radiation therapy.
Under the law of most states, pain and suffering from mesothelioma may be compensated through the award of money damages, usually obtained with the help of experienced mesothelioma attorneys. In some states other types of damages may also be recovered.
Asbestos litigation affords mesothelioma victims the opportunity to receive financial compensation and hold accountable the companies that caused their asbestos exposure.
- Preserve your rights to bring a legal action against the responsible parties within the limited time frame allowed by law, known as statute of limitations;
- Obtain maximum compensation in your case by being able to:
- Preserve evidence and establish facts of the asbestos exposure while the claimant is still alive and able to provide information;
- File and resolve a lawsuit against the responsible parties before they file for bankruptcy or, if they already have, to obtain compensation before their bankruptcy trust funds run out of money;
- Expedite your case, as courts tend to give higher priority to mesothelioma lawsuits where the claimant is still alive.
1 Robert B. Cameron, Extra pleural Pneumonectomy is the Preferred Surgical Management in the Multimodality Therapy of Pleural Mesothelioma: Con Argument, Annals of Surgical Oncology, 2006;
2 Argote-Greene et al., Extrapleural Pneumonectomy for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma, Multimedia Manual of Cardiothoracic Surgery, June 28, 2005);
3 Feldman et al., Analysis of Factors Associated with Outcome in Patients with Malignant Mesothelioma Undergoing Surgical Debulking and Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 21, Issue 24, 2003.