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What are the surgical options for mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers internal organs. We represent clients with cancer in the mesothelium of their lungs (pleura) after inhaling asbestos fibers. This is called pleural mesothelioma. While there is currently no cure, there are treatment options available that can help ease pain, reduce symptoms and prolong life.

As part of your cancer treatment, you may have questions about surgical options available. Treatment is different for every patient and depends on the stage of the cancer when discovered and your wishes and goals. Below is a discussion of the different surgical options available. Surgery is not the only option, as various drugs, chemotherapy and other treatments are also available. In some cases, tumors are inoperable. For many patients, however, a combination of surgery and chemotherapy is used to improve quality of life and the lifespan of patients.

Available options

These are not medical recommendations and we do not suggest any particular treatment over another. The information is intended to help patients ask informed questions to their doctor about potential surgical options.

  • Draining fluid in the lungs. Fluid buildup in the lungs is a serious symptom of mesothelioma. Draining the fluid can help ease breathing and reduce pain. In this procedure, surgeons insert a catheter into the chest to drain fluid and may provide medication to help reduce future fluid buildup.
  • Removing tissue. By removing some of the cancerous tissue, doctors may be able to relive symptoms of mesothelioma. This is not a cure, but it can help ease pain and other symptoms.
  • "Debulking". This is an operation to remove as much of the cancer as is possible. This can improve radiation treatment by allowing a more targeted focus on the cancerous areas.
  • Removing a lung. This option is available to relieve the symptoms of mesothelioma. It can also let doctors use a higher dose of radiation because they no longer need to worry about damaging the lung.

Take an active role in your treatment

Understanding the options available can help patients choose a treatment that is in line with their goals and beliefs. Mesothelioma is a frightening and deadly cancer. Understanding the cause and treatment options can help reduce anxiety and help patients be in better control of their own health.

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