Treatment for mesothelioma
depends on the location of the cancer, the stage of the
disease, and the patient’s age and general health. Standard treatment options include
surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes, these treatments are
Surgery is a common treatment for mesothelioma. The doctor may remove part of
the lining of the chest or abdomen and some of the tissue around it. For cancer of the
pleura (pleural mesothelioma), a lung may be removed in an operation called a
pneumonectomy. Sometimes part of the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs that
helps with breathing, is also removed.
Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, involves the use of high-energy rays to
kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy affects the cancer cells only in
the treated area. The radiation may come from a machine (external radiation) or from
putting materials that produce radiation through thin plastic tubes into the area where
the cancer cells are found (internal radiation therapy).
Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body.
Most drugs used to treat mesothelioma are given by injection into a vein (intravenous,
or IV). Doctors are also studying the effectiveness of putting chemotherapy directly
into the chest or abdomen (intracavitary chemotherapy).
To relieve symptoms and control pain, the doctor may use a needle or a thin tube to drain
fluid that has built up in the chest or abdomen. The procedure for removing fluid from
the chest is called thoracentesis. Removal of fluid from the abdomen is called
paracentesis. Drugs may be given through a tube in the chest to prevent more fluid from
accumulating. Radiation therapy and surgery may also be helpful in relieving symptoms.