CuresResearchers and pathologists continue to work tirelessly towards a cure for mesothelioma and other cancers, unfortunately there are none to date. Treatment generally focuses on maximizing a patient's life expectancy and reducing the pain and discomfort associated with the illness. Intensive treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation can help with both. In addition, several forms of experimental treatments such as multimodality therapy, gene therapy, photodynamic therapy, immunotherapy and the drug Alimta are being tested everyday. The most important thing a patient and their family can do is maintain hope, as accounts of survival have surfaced.
SurgerySurgery generally involves removal of the entire portion or lobe of the lung in which the cancer is located. However, because lung cancer commonly occurs in people who have smoked heavily for many years, the other lung may be severely damaged by emphysema and not healthy enough to meet the personís oxygen needs. Breathing tests before the operation may help determine the function of the non-cancerous lung.
ChemotherapyChemotherapy involves a regimen of anticancer drugs taken by mouth or intravenously. These drugs are designed to reach tissues throughout the entire body in an effort to destroy any cancer that may have spread beyond the lung.
Some newer chemotherapy agents cause fewer complications than did anticancer drugs of the past. Medications to combat the nausea that usually accompanies chemotherapy also have markedly improved compared with treatments available even a decade ago. Chemotherapy usually is the preferred treatment for people with small cell lung cancer.
RadiationWith this treatment method, a beam of high energy radiation is aimed at the tumors to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy may also be used to relieve lung cancer signs and symptoms, including pain, bleeding and difficulty swallowing.
Advances in targeting the radiation to the cancerous tissue have reduced complications associated with its use. However, radiation may cause inflammation of the lung, scarring and decreased lung function.