Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive form of cancer that is believed to be caused by Asbestos exposure. Treatment options for Mesothelioma vary depending on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis and at the time of treatment. Treatment options tend to work better in the earlier stages of disease progression.
Stages Of Mesothelioma
There are 4 different stages of Mesothelioma. Staging the disease allows doctors to determine the severity, and to determine if the cancer has started to spread or if it is localized. There are several different diagnostic tests the physician may use to determine the stage of Mesothelioma.
Stage 1: This is the earliest and least severe stage of Mesothelioma. The cancer is localized in this stage, and is usually just found in one area of the mesothelium.
Stage 2: In this stage, the cancer is in the original site, and has also moved to the lymph nodes.
Stage 3: The cancer has metastasized and moved to other areas of the body. Common areas infected in stage 3 include the heart, diaphragm, past the diaphragm, peritoneum, and mediastinum.
Stage 4: The cancer has spread to tissue and organs throughout the body.
There are two primary types of surgery for the treatment of Mesothelioma. The first type is Pneumonectomy. This type of surgery involves removing the infected lung. This only works if only one of the lungs is infected with Mesothelioma. It is an extremely complicated surgery, and can lead to difficulty breathing, as it reduces air capacity by half. Normally, the surgeon will only agree to this treatment if the body can handle it and breathing will be normal after the procedure.
The second type of surgery is called Extrapleural Pneumonectomy. This type of surgery removes the infected lung and all of the tissue around it. It usually means removing the pericardium (membrane around the heart), diaphragm, and parietal pleura (membrane that lines the chest cavity). This surgery is extremely rare and risky. It has had good results in slowing the spread of the cancer, and has had the best outcome for long-term survival.
The surgical process for these procedures generally looks like this.
1. General anesthesia will be administered to the patient.
2. Surgeon opens up the chest with a large incision. In some cases, the 6th rib is removed to make more room for the removal of the lung and surrounding tissue.
3. The infected lung is collapsed and the blood vessels are tied off.
4. The bronchial tube is clamped.
5. The infected lung is removed.
6. Synthetic products are used to add form to the chest wall where supporting tissue was removed.
7. The chest is closed up using sutures, in most cases. A drain is temporarily inserted into the cavity of the chest.
8. An epidural is used for 2 days or so to control the pain. The patient is in the hospital for approximately 2 weeks following the surgery.
These surgical procedures are extremely complicated, and thus, they are rare. The cancer has to be in the earliest stage, and the surgery will only be done if it can all be removed. In the case of successful surgery, the prognosis for the patient greatly increases.