With little research regarding how to cure mesothelioma, it can be very difficult to treat no matter what stage the patient is in . Factors including whether the cancer is palliative or curative, as well as the goal of the specific treatment are important to acknowledge before treatment begins. It is also necessary to discuss the benefits and risks of each treatment in order for patients to make an informed decision as to which route they want to go. The TNM system divides the patient’s mesothelioma into four stages that will aid the doctor in determining how advanced the cancer is. However, a more simple system can help specialists decide if the cancer is curative by surgery or not. Mesothelioma can either be resectable or unresectable. Resectable mesothelioma means that all of the visible tumors can be removed by various surgical procedures. On the contrary, unresectable means that surgery is not an option as a course of treatment.
Late stage mesothelioma and even some in the earlier stages can sometimes not be fully removed through surgery. Reasons for this could be due to the extent of the disease or because a patient is not healthy enough to undergo a major surgical procedure. In the case of unresectable mesothelioma other options can include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of the two. It should be noted that these treatments have the ability to shrink tumors and slow cancer growth but do not remove the cancer in the same way surgery does. For those with unresectable mesothelioma, treatments are usually aimed at relieving symptoms and pain management.
Only a licensed physician or specialist can diagnosis mesothelioma and develop the best course of treatment for individual patient needs. Mesothelioma is not an easy cancer to cure. Due in part to the cancer’s latency period of 20 to 50 years, once an individual is diagnosed with mesothelioma, often the course of action is aimed at symptom relief or extending prognosis. Mesothelioma has been largely linked to exposure to asbestos, a toxic human carcinogen that through inhalation or ingestion becomes embedded in the lungs, heart, and abdomen. There is currently no known cure for mesothelioma.