Mesothelioma

Malignant Mesothelioma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lining of the chest or abdomen.

 

Stages of Mesothelioma:

 

The stages of malignant mesothelioma are divided into two groups: localized and advanced.

Localized malignant mesothelioma (stage I)

In localized malignant mesothelioma, cancer is found in the lining of the chest wall and may also be found in the lining of the lung, the lining of the diaphragm, or the lining of the sac that covers the heart on the same side of the chest.

Advanced malignant mesothelioma (stage II, stage III, and stage IV)

In stage II, cancer is found in the lining of the chest wall and the lymph nodes on the same side of the chest. Cancer may also be found in the lining of the lung, the lining of the diaphragm, or the lining of the sac that covers the heart on the same side of the chest.

In stage III, cancer has spread to any of the following areas:

  • The chest wall.
  • The mediastinum.
  • The heart.
  • Beyond the diaphragm.
  • The peritoneum.

Cancer may have also spread to lymph nodes on the other side of the chest or outside the chest.

In stage IV, cancer has spread to distant organs or tissues.

 

Treatment of Mesothelioma:

 

Surgery

The following surgical treatments may be used for malignant mesothelioma:

  • Wide local excision: Surgery to remove the cancer and some of the healthy tissue around it.

  • Pleurectomy and decortication: Surgery to remove part of the covering of the lungs and lining of the chest and part of the outside surface of the lungs.

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy: Surgery to remove one whole lung and part of the lining of the chest, the diaphragm, and the lining of the sac around the heart.

  • Pleurodesis: A surgical procedure that uses chemicals or drugs to make a scar in the space between the layers of the pleura. Fluid is first drained from the space using a catheter or chest tube and the chemical or drug is put into the space. The scarring stops the build-up of fluid in the pleural cavity.

  • Even if the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left. Treatment is given after surgery, to lower the risk that the cancer will come back, is called adjuvant therapy.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). Combination chemotherapy is the use of more than one anticancer drug. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

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Adapted from the National Cancer Institute's PDQ Database: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/malignantmesothelioma/Patient/page2. (Accessed July 2016)