Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer that can attack major organs like the heart and the lungs. Current studies reveal that about 80% of all mesothelioma cases are caused by asbestos exposure. The problem with this type of cancer is it doesn’t surface until many years following exposure.
Due to how rampant the cancer is, scientists around the world are working on a range of treatments.
Is Surgery Effective with Aggressive Mesothelioma?
Surgery is often the first treatment option mesothelioma sufferers think about. But over the years surgery has proven to be largely ineffective against mesothelioma. It’s true that survival rates for those who undergo surgery tend to be higher, but studies have still proven that surgery does have a minor effect.
But in terms of survival, aggressive mesothelioma leads to survival rates as low as 35% after 12 months. And only 10% of people will live longer than 12 years, thus demonstrating that surgery isn’t the answer.
Chemotherapy for Mesothelioma
Chemotherapy has long been a common treatment option for all cancer sufferers. As of this writing, chemotherapy for mesothelioma is still in the experimental stages. So far, the FDA has only provided approval for chemotherapy for pleural mesothelioma. The interesting part of this treatment is that the same drugs are used across the country, so there are no differences between the various states.
There has recently been a breakthrough in chemotherapy. A new drug known as Ptac2S has successfully reduced tumour mass by 53%. There has also been a reduction in the growth of cells by 50%, in the same Italian study. Chemotherapy is becoming even more effective at combatting mesothelioma.
Radiation Therapy for Cancer
Another treatment option for surviving mesothelioma is radiation therapy. Take note that although it’s incredibly important for treating this type of aggressive cancer, it’s rarely used alone, as with other cancers.
Radiation therapy is brought together with chemotherapy and may include surgery. Only sometimes can radiation therapy work against aggressive mesothelioma.
Why Multimodality Therapy is So Important
Multimodality therapy, however, is by far considered to be the most effective treatment option of all. The above three treatments are effective alone, but it’s not the optimal choice. Multimodality therapy is about bringing together these options.
Surgery combined with both chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which is known as trimodality therapy, has led to vastly increased survival rates.
The main reason multimodality therapy is much more effective is because it overcomes the limitations of surgery alone in removing the entire tumour. Most patient prognoses are pessimistic for this reason.
What’s clear from trimodality therapy is that it can be useful, but there’s a big debate over the exact treatment sequence.
What about Alternative Therapies?
Alternative therapies are occasionally floated for mesothelioma and other cancers. Unfortunately, there has been relatively little research into alternative therapies.
One of the most interesting cases is that of Paul Kraus. As a holocaust survivor, Kraus is the world’s longest surviving sufferer of mesothelioma, after being diagnosed with the disease in 1997. Unlike most cancer sufferers, he creates a customised treatment plan.
This treatment plan included multimodality therapy, as detailed above, but Kraus broke ranks and decided to change his whole lifestyle. He made dramatic changes to nutrition and exercise, alongside his treatment. While he continues to suffer from mesothelioma, his life is no longer under threat.
It’s well-known that living a healthy lifestyle can prevent many types of cancer. The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that 20% of all new cancer cases in the US could be prevented if people made better lifestyle choices. Research is currently limited on whether lifestyle change makes a difference after diagnosis, but cases like Paul Kraus illustrate there’s something to it.
Last Word – Is Mesothelioma Treatable?
Mesothelioma offers one of the worst survival rates for cancer sufferers. However, the survival rates are improving as big steps forward are made in chemotherapy and in more alternative therapies. Remarkable case studies produced by organisations like Surviving Mesothelioma have proven that there is hope and mesothelioma isn’t necessarily a death sentence.
But the key is to notice the symptoms of possible mesothelioma and to be diagnosed as soon as possible. Every day matters.
Author Bio: Victoria Heckstall is a professional writer that tries to bring attention to topics that she feels deserves more awareness.