Doctors may offer their patients one or more options to treat malignant mesothelioma, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and/or other kinds of treatments. However, the choices available depend on the type of mesothelioma the patient has and the stage of the disease.
Malignant mesothelioma typically develops in people who have spent a significant amount of time working with or around asbestos. This heat-resistant mineral that many industries used in abundance for years for fire-proofing purposes releases fibers into the air that can cause inflammation and scarring of the lungs over time. The body cannot clear these fibers once they are lodged into the tissue—so over a number of years, or even decades, it can cause serious health conditions such as malignant mesothelioma.
If your diagnosis occurred after working in an industry that exposed you to asbestos, your doctor can help you explore treatment options for malignant mesothelioma, while a lawyer can help you pursue financial compensation.
Types of Malignant Mesothelioma
All malignant mesothelioma affects the lining, or mesothelium, of certain organs of the body, but where it presents determines its type.
Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, accounts for approximately 75% of all mesothelioma cases. An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 people receive a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis each year.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, the second most common type of the disease, occurs in the lining of the stomach and other abdominal organs. Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma have the peritoneal form, which they often develop after unknowingly swallowing asbestos fibers in their workplace.
Rare Forms of Malignant Mesothelioma
Healthcare providers do not know as much about the other two types of malignant mesothelioma because they occur so rarely. Pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the heart, makes up only 1% of malignant mesothelioma cases. Doctors have only reported a few hundred cases of testicular mesothelioma, which appears in the lining of the testicles.
Stages of Malignant Mesothelioma
The American Cancer Society describes the complex staging of malignant mesothelioma, which refers to how far in the body the cancer has spread and what organs it is affecting. The stage of malignant mesothelioma also affects whether the patient can receive certain types of treatments, particularly surgery.
Because of the uncommon nature of other types of the disease, the current staging system only applies to cases of pleural mesothelioma.
- Stage IA: The cancer affects the pleural lining on one side of the chest wall.
- Stage IB: The cancer has spread into the lining of the lung, diaphragm, or mediastinum or grown into other body structures, but may respond to surgery.
- Stage II: The cancer affects the lining of one chest wall but may have also spread into the diaphragm or lung itself.
- Stage IIIA: The cancer has grown into other body structures, but doctors may still have the option to remove it with surgery.
- Stage IIIB: The cancer has progressed to the point that doctors can no longer remove it with surgery.
- Stage IV: The cancer has spread to distant organs.
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Treatment for Malignant Mesothelioma
Once a doctor has evaluated the type and stage of the patient’s condition, they can discuss potential malignant mesothelioma treatment options and help them develop a plan for how to proceed. A cure for malignant mesothelioma does not exist, but treatment may help slow the spread of the disease and alleviate some symptoms.
According to the National Cancer Institute, other factors that may influence a patient’s prognosis and treatment options include:
- The amount of fluid buildup in the chest or abdomen
- The patient’s age
- The patient’s activity level
- The patient’s general health
- The type of mesothelioma cells
- How early doctors diagnosed the cancer
- If the cancer has come back after remission
Standard treatment options for patients with malignant mesothelioma may include surgery to remove tumors, chemotherapy to stop the growth of cancer cells, radiation to kill cancer cells using high-energy X-rays, and/or targeted therapy, which uses drugs to attack cancer cells while minimizing harm to healthy cells. In some cases, patients may also have the option to pursue therapies in clinical trials, such as biologic therapy, which helps boost the immune system to fight the cancer on its own.
All types of treatment for malignant mesothelioma carry a risk of side effects, but doctors can help patients choose an approach based on their overall health and goals. When patients do not receive a diagnosis until the cancer has progressed to later stages, they may prefer to receive palliative care to relieve symptoms and maintain their comfort.
A Lawyer Can Help You Seek Financial Awards
If a doctor diagnosed you with malignant mesothelioma or you lost a loved one to the disease due to occupational exposure to asbestos, a lawyer can help you seek the financial awards you and your family deserve.
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we work on a contingency fee basis, so you do not owe us anything unless we secure compensation for you. Contact us today at (800) 794-0444 to discuss your case with our legal team.