The best treatments for pleural mesothelioma are surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, catheters, and clinical trials. People exposed to asbestos in the past are at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma, cancer of the pleura. 

There is a higher risk of developing pleural mesothelioma disease for people who are construction workers, builders, miners, or other people who work around asbestos. Pleural mesothelioma forms in the tissue covering the lungs and chest wall causing fluid to build up and making breathing hard.

This article aimed to introduce readers to available treatment options and discuss possible side effects associated with these treatments.

What is pleural mesothelioma?

Pleural mesothelioma is rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and chest wall. In most cases, asbestos exposure is the leading cause of pleural mesothelioma. 

Pleural mesothelioma is formed in the pleura, a thin membrane on the chest wall covering the lungs. The disease got its name from the mesothelium, a lining that helps protect internal organs.

What is malignant pleural mesothelioma?

Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive cancer of the pleural surface. It is associated with previous asbestos exposure, with a latency period of ∼40 years between fiber exposure and disease presentation.

Is pleural mesothelioma cancer?

Mesothelioma is cancer that usually starts in the tissue layers covering each lung (the pleura). Therefore, it is called pleural mesothelioma.

Causes of pleural mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma (PM) is the most dangerous form of the disease, accounting for over 90% of all cases. It forms when the pleura becomes inflamed and infected.

The most common cause of mesothelial sarcoma (MES) is asbestos exposure. However, people can develop PM even if they have never worked with or handled asbestos.

Stages of pleural mesothelioma

The four stages of mesothelioma describe the size of the tumor and the extent of its spread. Therefore, it has a direct impact on the patient’s symptoms.

The stages of pleural mesothelioma include;

  1. Early tumor growth occurs along the mesothelial lining of one lung.
  2. Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  3. Tumors have invaded deeper tissues in nearby organs and distant lymph nodes.
  4. Metastasis is present, and tumors have formed at distant sites in the body.

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma is aggressive cancer that develops from a change in the lining of the lungs. Doctors have been able to cure this cancer using a variety of treatments, but because it is so rare, only a handful of patients are expected to receive this treatment.

Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs, causes signs and symptoms that may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Painful coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest
  • Unexplained weight loss

The first step in improving your chances of surviving the disease is learning more about it.

How to diagnose pleural mesothelioma?

Diagnosing pleural mesothelioma for the treatments for pleural mesothelioma often consists of multiple tests. 

Imaging scans

Imaging scans, such as an X-ray or CT scan, may be performed first to identify tumors or metastasis (spreading disease). 

Blood test

If a tumor is detected, Doctors will conduct blood tests to look for certain biomarkers (high levels of specific substances in the blood), which can help differentiate mesothelioma from other conditions.

Biopsy

A biopsy is the only way to verify a malignant pleural mesothelioma diagnosis. However, doctors can also conduct tests like thoracentesis to take a tissue or fluid sample for analysis. For thoracentesis, a doctor will insert a fine needle to remove fluid buildup in the chest.

Five best treatments for pleural mesothelioma

The most effective treatments for pleural mesothelioma is surgery, with local or regional radiation therapy being used in fewer than 3% of cases. However, there are limited research trials on this topic and no clinical data to support the use of these treatments.

Let us look further into these treatment options.

Surgery

surgery

As a most common treatments for pleural mesothelioma patients, doctors can perform surgery to diagnose and remove cancerous tumors partially or fully. 

Chemotherapy

chemotherapy

Doctors may perform chemotherapy to stop the multiplication of cancerous tumors and kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be used as a standalone treatment or in combination with surgery.

Immunotherapy

immunotherapy

It is a cancer treatment option for mesothelioma patients. In this treatment, the patient’s immune system fights mesothelioma cancer cells.

In 2020, the FDA approved immunotherapy drugs like Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab) as the first treatment options combined with immunotherapy.

Catheters

catheters

A catheter is a thin, flexible tube placed in the patient’s chest to drain fluid from the pleural space.

In the process, you must be aware that you should notify your doctor if you feel short of breath after draining 1000ml of fluid from the pleural space.

Clinical trials

clinical trials

Patients with pleural mesothelioma that cannot be removed by surgery receive chemotherapy.

In addition, clinical trials are conducted to test the new treatment options for malignant pleural mesothelioma patients. 

What is the most common treatment for mesothelioma?

The most common treatment for pleural mesothelioma involves a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. However, other supportive treatments can also help relieve the symptoms and improve pleural mesothelioma patients’ lives.

What is the survival rate of pleural mesothelioma?

The survival rate for mesothelioma is calculated in time increments of 1, 2, and 5 years. The average survival rate for one year after diagnosis is 73%, three years after diagnosis is 22.9%, and five years after diagnosis is 10%.

Does chemo work for mesothelioma?

Although chemotherapy can’t cure mesothelioma, it can alleviate symptoms, improve quality of life and prolong survival.

Can a lung transplant cure mesothelioma?

Since surgery is the best treatment option for patients, a lung transplant cannot cure mesothelioma. Rather mesothelioma can be suspected in lung transplant recipients.

Is pleural mesothelioma curable?

Pleural mesothelioma is not curable, but specific treatments relieve symptoms and provide longer life. 





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Angie Byrd