Mesothelioma-Most Commonly Asked Questions

Mesothelioma is an uncommon cancer that affects primarily the mesothelium which is a protective sac covering most of the body's internal organs. Exposure to asbestos particles at the place of work has been strongly linked to the development of mesothelioma in most of the victims.

Some of the most frequently asked questions on mesothelioma are:

1- Is there any ongoing research to discover new treatments for mesothelioma?

Yes, there are new treatments that are being studied. The National Cancer Institute {NCI} is sponsoring clinical trials {research with people} which are designed to find new modes of treatment and also to discover better ways of using currently used treatments.

Most of these treatments are still undergoing clinical trials by doctors to find out whether the treatments are safe for patients and whether they are effective against the disease before they can be recommended for general use.

Mesothelioma victims can offer themselves for participation in these clinical trials as a treatment option. Information about clinical trials is available from the Cancer Information Service{CIS} at 1-800-4-Cancer.

2- How can Mesothelioma be treated?

The treatment of mesothelioma depends on, the location of the cancer,stage of the disease, and patients age and general health.

Treatment options include

a} Chemotherapy, b} Radiotherapy, c} Surgery.

These forms of treatment are sometimes combined.

- Chemotherapy: This involves the use of anticancer drugs to selectively destroy and kill the cancer cells in the body. Most of the anticancer drugs are administered intravenously. Ongoing research into possibility of direct administration of anticancer drugs into the chest or abdomen is currently being studied.

- Radiotherapy: This involves the use of high energy rays {radiation} to kill the cancer cells and debulk {shrink} tumors. The radiation is directed only at the affected area of the body to kill the cancer cells.

Radiation can be from an external machine placed outside the body {external radiation},or it could be form an internal source where the material releasing the radiation is placed inside the area of the body affected by cancer cells. It is placed with the use of thin plastic tubes.

- Surgery: This is a very common mode of treatment in treating mesothelioma. The surgeon may remove part of the lining of the chest and abdomen and some of the surrounding tissue. Sometimes an operation called pneumonectomy is done during which a whole lung is removed. Other forms of surgery involves the removal of part of the diaphragm, this is the muscular sheet separating the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity.


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