The treatment protocol for mesothelioma differs based on the stage that a patient has progressed to at the time of diagnosis. Provided below is an example of the types of treatment that a pleural mesothelioma patient will undergo at various stages of the disease. We have identified the stages using the Butchart staging system.
Stage I Mesothelioma Treatment
Surgical intervention is most commonly recommended for pleural mesothelioma patients having a Stage I diagnosis. The procedures that are likely to be performed are pleurectomy/decortication or extrapleural pneumonectomy. Post surgery, doctors may further evaluate the patient to determine if chemotherapy or radiation treatment is necessary. It is often determined with stage I mesothelioma that those adjunct therapies are not required.
Stages II, III Mesothelioma Treatment
When mesothelioma has progressed to stages II and III the cancer cannot be cured. At these stages medical treatment focuses on alleviating the severity of the symptoms and keeping the patient as comfortable as possible in order to optimize quality of life. For example, if there is significant fluid build-up in the chest the doctor may order that it be drained. Additionally, there may be instances where removing some or all of the tumor and / or undergoing chemo or radiation treatments will provide symptom relief. Clinical trials at some of the larger cancer centers in the country may also offer different treatment options for patients in these stages.
Stage IV Mesothelioma Treatment
When a patient has been diagnosed with stage IV mesothelioma the prognosis is very unfavorable. At this stage, the cancer has usually metastasized throughout the body to other organs and as with stages II and III, cannot be cured. In this stage, symptoms generally increase in severity and pain management becomes the primary focus of the medical team. Therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation are typically not offered at this stage unless they are needed to support pain management objectives. Oftentimes families find that it is most helpful to seek out additional support through a local Hospice program. Hospice programs focus on providing patient care, developing a pain management protocol and providing support for both the patient and family members at this difficult time. Patients with stage IV mesothelioma may also be interested in participating in specialized clinical trials offered at leading cancer hospitals and centers and are encouraged to seek out those programs if desired.