United Kingdom Treatment Options

Treatment options for patients with mesothelioma depend on the particular aspects of an individual case. This is true no matter what the person’s country of residence. For instance, drugs are available in the United States that may not be used in the United Kingdom, and the other way around. Certain surgical procedures, as well, may be used more in one country than another. At the present time, however, many of the treatments offered in the United States are also available for mesothelioma sufferers in the United Kingdom.

Mesothelioma Surgery

Although surgery is not always an option for a particular patient, when it is recommended, the surgeon may perform a procedure to remove most of the tumor if it has not metastasized. Unfortunately, by the time mesothelioma is diagnosed, it has often progressed to the later stages and surgery is not possible. Another surgical procedure removes the lining of the lung – the pleura – but leaves the lung intact. However, the whole lung on the affected side may be removed in a technique called extrapleural pneumonectomy. The surgeon also removes the pericardium – the covering over the heart – the diaphragm and the pleura during this more drastic surgery.

Chemotherapy and Radiation

Often the first treatment offered to a patient after a diagnosis of mesothelioma is chemotherapy, especially in the event that surgery is not recommended. Most of the numerous chemotherapy drugs approved for treating mesothelioma around the world are also approved for the disease in the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom’s National Health System has financed the drug Alimta for treating advanced stages of mesothelioma since 2007. Alimta has been shown to have the most success in treating the disease, especially when used with another chemotherapy drug such as cisplatin, which is platinum-based, or other recommended drugs. Alimta, manufactured by Eli Lilly, is specially designed to treat mesothelioma, and is the only licensed drug for this purpose. A number of factors, including the location of the disease and the stage, will help in deciding the frequency of chemotherapy drug use and the length of treatment.

In order to relieve the debilitation of mesothelioma and slow the spread of the disease, radiotherapy treatment is often used. The length of treatment depends on the individual, and some of the deciding factors are the same as with chemotherapy – the location in the body and the stage of the disease.

Other Options

Since there is no known cure for mesothelioma, palliative care is also given in an attempt to relieve pain and other symptoms for the patient.   Additionally, a number of clinical trials are ongoing to test the effectiveness of new treatments.