Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium, the thin tissue that covers our lungs, heart, and other internal organs. Nearly all cases of this fatal disease are caused by exposure to asbestos.
People with mesothelioma typically survive 12 to 18 months from the time of diagnosis. Treatments may extend the life of mesothelioma patients, but there is no cure.
Following are the most common treatment options for pleural mesothelioma, cancer of the lining of the lung:
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) The most aggressive type of mesothelioma surgery, EPP involves the removal of the lung along with its coverings and the associated coverings of the heart and diaphragm. It is followed by chemotherapy and radiation.
- Pleurectomy/decortication Surgery to remove the lining of the lung and the cancer cells while preserving the lung. The procedure is followed by chemotherapy. This surgery is an option for patients whose limited heart and lung function prevent them from undergoing EPP.
- Chemotherapy/Radiation Patients who are not candidates for any type of surgery may benefit from chemotherapy and radiation to shrink the tumor.
Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are also used to treat peritoneal (abdominal) mesothelioma, and pericardial (heart) mesothelioma. Clinical trials of new therapies may also be an option.