Mesothelioma Treatment FAQ
What kinds of treatments are available for mesothelioma?
For most mesothelioma patients, surgery to remove the tumor is not an option. Usually, your oncologist will recommend either chemotherapy or radiation. Sometimes both are used together. Your doctor may also suggest procedures such as thoracentesis, which will drain the fluid from your lungs and make you more comfortable.
How effective are mesothelioma treatments?
At this time, treatments suggested for mesothelioma can not cure the disease. They are recommended for palliative purposes in order to lessen the symptoms of the disease, making the patient more comfortable and providing a better quality of life.
Do these treatments have any side effects?
Like any cancer treatments, those for mesothelioma carry a number of side effects. The most common side effects of chemotherapy are nausea and vomiting, hair loss, decreased immune system, loss of appetite, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms. Those undergoing radiation will experience fewer side effects. They might include fatigue, redness near the treated area, dry mouth, and loss of appetite.
What kinds of programs are available for patients going through mesothelioma treatment?
Many hospitals and clinics offer support groups for mesothelioma patients (or cancer patients in general) who are currently undergoing treatment for their disease. Ask your doctor or a member of your medical team what's available near you. You might also find online support groups made up of individuals with mesothelioma or their loved ones. These support groups, whether online or in person, can provide knowledge and support to help ease the fear of the disease and its treatment.
Is there any research taking place on mesothelioma patients?
Mesothelioma has gained more recognition in recent years as the disease rate climbs. Scientists and doctors are making more and more strides towards devising early detection methods as well as new and better treatments for the disease. Clinical trials involving new methods of treatment are available throughout the country. Ask your doctor what clinical trials are being conducted in your area or consult the American Cancer Society or www.clinicaltrials.gov. Remember, not everyone is a candidate for every trial. You must fit the patient profile before you're accepted into a specific program.
How is mesothelioma diagnosed?
Doctors usually begin the diagnosis of mesothelioma with the use of sophisticated imaging, such as CT scans and MRIs. However, most oncologists believe the best way to determine whether or not a person is stricken with mesothelioma is by means of a biopsy, which removes a portion of tissue from the pleura to test for cancer cells.
What medications are available for mesothelioma patients?
Currently, doctors recommend chemotherapy medications such as alimta, cisplatin, and onconase for the treatment of mesothelioma. Other chemo meds are used as well. Other medications may be suggested to relieve pain and combat other uncomfortable symptoms of the disease.
Can mesothelioma be cured?
Not at this time, though researchers are consistently working towards a cure for the disease.
Are there different treatments for the different types of mesothelioma?
Treatments for pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial mesothelioma are all similar and include both radiation and chemotherapy. Procedures to remove fluid will vary according to where the cancer is located.
Where can I find information on clinical trials?
Your doctor is usually the best source of information on clinical trials. However, you can also consult the American Cancer Society website or call them directly to learn what trials are being conducted in your area. If you live in a rural area of the country, you may need to travel close to a large hospital to participate in a trial. The U.S. Institutes of Health also offer a clinical trial website at www.clinicaltrials.gov
Asbestosis Treatment FAQ
What kinds of treatments are available for asbestosis?
Asbestosis is treated by addressing the symptoms of the disease. If breathing is a problem, doctors may suggest a steroid or an inhaler, not unlike those used by asthma patients. Asbestosis patients may also undergo procedures that drain fluid from the lungs. Asbestosis victims who are smokers should stop smoking immediately.
How effective are asbestosis treatments?
Treatments can greatly relieve symptoms of asbestosis but do not cure the disease.
What are the side effects of asbestosis treatment?
Asbestosis treatments carry few side effects though patients may have adverse reactions to some of the medications prescribed to relieve symptoms.
Is there any research going into treating asbestosis?
Doctors and research scientists are consistently research ways to combat both asbestosis and mesothelioma, including new drugs and procedures for treatment.
Where can I find information on clinical trials?
Your doctor is the best source of information on clinical trials for asbestosis. You can also consult www.clinicaltrials.gov, a service of the US Institutes for Health, which lists current clinical trials for a variety of diseases.
How is asbestosis diagnosed?
What medications are available for asbestosis patients?
Respiratory therapy drugs, such as bronchodilators, are most often recommended for asbestosis patients, who usually suffer from shortness of breath. Over-the-counter pain medications can help alleviate the chest pain associated with the disease. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed if an infection is detected, as a cold or similar illness can be very detrimental to an asbestosis patient.
Can asbestosis be cured?
Not at this time, though researchers continue to work towards a cure.
- American Cancer Society: Detailed Guide: Malignant Mesothelioma http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_4X_How_is_malignant_mesothelioma_treated_29.asp?rnav=cri
- National Cancer Institute, US National Institutes of Health. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/malignantmesothelioma/patient
- National Cancer Institute, US National Institutes of Health. Treatment of Metastatic Cancers http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/metastatic
Last modified: December 24, 2010.