Most Common Mesothelioma Treatments: Surgery

Mesothelioma is defined by the American Cancer Society as cancer that starts in the cells that line certain parts of the body, especially the chest and belly or abdomen. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. The three most common treatments for mesothelioma are surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. In part one of this three-part series about common mesothelioma treatments, surgery for mesothelioma will be reviewed.* Once mesothelioma is diagnosed, a doctor will typically assign a mesothelioma prognosis and complete a treatment plan. What typically determines both of these is the size and place of the tumor, how much it has metastasized or spread, the patient's general health, and the patient's desires. If it is determined that surgery is one of the best treatments, the surgery will be for one of two general purposes: to attempt to remove the cancer or to reduce the severity of symptoms caused by the cancer. Surgically removing mesothelioma is usually very difficult or impossible due to its tendency to spread along tissue surfaces, nerves, and blood vessels. Therefore, most surgeries performed for mesothelioma are palliative, which means they are meant to help relieve symptoms. Three of the most common mesothelioma surgeries are: ·         Extrapleural pneumonectomy or EPP: Removes all or most of the cancer and some of the tissues around it, including the nearby lung. ·         Pleurectomy/decortication or P/D: A smaller operation to relieve fluid build-up, improve breathing, and decrease pain caused by the cancer. ·         Debulking: Removes as much of the mesothelioma as possible. Surgery may not always be a good option, as it is a very invasive mesothelioma treatment. When palliative surgery is considered, other, less invasive treatments might also be considered to relieve symptoms. In the next installment of this three-part blog series, radiation for mesothelioma will be reviewed. *This information is summarizing the American Cancer Society's Cancer Information Database. The information in this blog series is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team.
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