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As a result of a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, surgical treatment is one of the standard types of treatment used to remove tumors, providing relief from symptoms and possibly leading to long-term survival. Surgery is not advised for all mesothelioma patients, having said that, particularly if they are in poor overall health or are diagnosed at a late stage.
Mesothelioma is a sudden and devastating form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. This terminal disease occurs unexpectedly usually 20 to 40 or more years after asbestos exposure. Anyone can be exposed from everyday locations, such as homes, workplaces, schools, and even by direct contact with someone who has asbestos dust contamination on their clothes. Wives and children of workers that were exposed to asbestos have also been shown to be at risk of this disease as a result of personal exposure to asbestos dust on their loved one’s clothing. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there is no evidence of any asbestos exposure level that is considered safe. In conclusion, there is not a certain level of exposure that can decrease your chance of developing the disease. All levels will may lead to this unfortunate disease.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and are experiencing symptoms, seek out a mesothelioma experienced physician as soon as possible in order to receive proper treatment. If diagnosis is early you will have access to a wider array of treatment opportunities with more promising results. Additional information and statistics about mesothelioma can be found within this section.
Common Mesothelioma Surgery Types
Surgery can take place at different points throughout a patient’s experience with mesothelioma. Surgery can be used early on to help make a diagnosis, and it can be used after a diagnosis is made either to eradicate the disease or to relieve symptoms caused by the cancer growth.
Palliative care focuses on helping the patient relieve symptoms by reducing pain and discomfort. Palliative surgery may include removing all or part of the tumor, or addressing certain symptoms like fluid buildup and inflammation.
Surgeries that attempt to eradicate the disease are called “curative,” even though mesothelioma does not have a cure itself. Curative approaches use surgery along with chemotherapy and radiation to try to put the cancer into remission.
Diagnostic or exploratory surgery is used to help doctors determine if mesothelioma exists, usually by taking a biopsy. It can be as simple as using a needle or it could require full open surgery, depending on the location of the tumor.
The doctors who operate on mesothelioma patients often specialize in the area of the body where the tumors first form. For example, thoracic surgeons – who specialize in surgeries of the chest cavity – may perform surgery on patients with pleural or pericardial mesothelioma. There are also surgical oncologists who specialize in cancer-related surgery.
Surgery for Pleural Mesothelioma
Several surgical options are available for those pleural mesothelioma, which is the most common form of the disease. These procedures are sometimes followed by chemotherapy or radiation to kill or prevent the growth of remaining cancer tissue.
A pleurectomy involves removal of the pleura (the lining of the lungs). The surgeon will make an incision, through which he will remove both the inner and outer lung linings. Depending on the size of the tumor and whether any metastasis has occurred, the surgeon may remove some of the lung tissue beneath the pleura.
If the mesothelioma only affects one of the lungs, a pneumonectomy may be performed to remove the entire lung. During the surgery, the diseased lung will be deflated and removed through a large incision. It is an intensive surgery that can require up to two weeks in the hospital, and several months until full recovery.
Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (Curative)
In rare cases, in addition to removing the lung, a surgeon will remove the areas surrounding it, including other mesothelial tissue, such as the lining of the heart and/or abdomen, and part or all of the diaphragm. This is an extremely difficult surgery and can result in severe complications.
This procedure is used to remove fluid from around the lungs (pleural effusion), which can make it difficult and painful for mesothelioma patients to breathe. It is usually an outpatient procedure performed by inserting a long, thin needle into the pleural space to withdraw the fluid.
If fluid buildup cannot be controlled by pleurocentesis, a surgeon may insert talc into the pleural space, which will cause inflammation and stop fluid from collecting. It can be an intensive procedure requiring several days in the hospital, and up to two months for full recovery.
Surgery for Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Peritoneal mesothelioma is much less common than pleural, but there are still several types of surgery to treat it or relieve symptoms. In addition to chemotherapy or radiation in multimodal therapies, peritoneal mesothelioma surgery may also be followed by hyperthermic peritoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) – a warm chemotherapy wash that kills cancer cells in the abdominal cavity.
The lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) is where peritoneal mesothelioma first develops. A peritonectomy removes this lining in an attempt to remove all of the cancerous tissue from the body. Studies have shown this treatment, combined with HIPEC, to have one of the highest success rates of all mesothelioma surgeries.
The abdomen contains a lot of organs, and in many cases mesothelioma can spread to various abdominal organs relatively easily. Cytoreductive surgery attempts to remove all visible tumors. It is intensive surgery, usually taking as long as 10 – 12 hours, and often includes a HIPEC wash.
When there is fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity (peritoneal effusion), a paracentesis can be performed to remove the fluid and provide comfort to peritoneal mesothelioma patients.
Surgery for Pericardial Mesothelioma
Unfortunately, most cases of pericardial mesothelioma are not discovered until after the patient has already passed away. However, in those cases where a patient is diagnosed in enough time, there are some surgical options available.
Pericardial mesothelioma develops in the pericardium (lining of the heart). In this surgery, the pericardium is removed in an effort to eradicate the cancer. Typically, the pericardium will be replaced with surgical Gore-Tex, so that the heart will continue to pump smoothly.
If fluid accumulates in the heart cavity (pericardial effusion), it can put pressure on the heart, affecting the rhythm and blood pressure. A pericardiocentesis relieves that pressure by draining fluid from the pericardial space.
Types of Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma arises in the membrane which surrounds the lung, called the pleura. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this deadly cancer.
Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity, called the peritoneum. Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common but is more often found in women than in men.
Pericardial mesothelioma originates in the pericardium, which lines the heart.
Asbestos Cancer Treatment
Asbestos cancer treatment options generally include some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Depending upon the location of the cancer, typically asbestos associated malignancies can be challenging to resect due to the fact that the latency period over which the cancer goes undiscovered can typically extend into the time duration where the growth develops through its preliminary stages. Later on phase cancers, and particularly those related to asbestos, will frequently not be resectable malignancies. While medical diagnosis of early stage asbestos cancer is unusual, certainly those eligible for surgical elimination will often have the cancer resected. Adjuvant chemotherapy is typically administered after surgical treatment to complement the resection.
Pleurectomy and extrapleural pneumonectomy, both comprehensive surgeries, are often utilized in the treatment of pleural asbestos cancer. Surgical treatment is much less common in deadly peritoneal and pericardial cancer, as the origin of the growth is tough to access without endangering the survival of the patient.
Chemotherapy is the most often made use of treatment mechanism for the control of asbestos cancer. Drugs like Alimta ®, Cisplatin, and Gemcitabine have all been utilized with differing degrees of efficacy to stop or slow the spread of malignant mesothelioma cancer and lung carcinomas. Continuous medical trials continue to evaluate brand-new drugs and drug cocktails for the management and treatment of asbestos cancer. Current patterns recommend that researchers are making strides in determining authorized treatment routines not just for malignant pleural mesothelioma, however likewise peritoneal and pericardial cancers.
Currently, the only FDA-approved chemotherapy routine for the asbestos cancer malignant pleural mesothelioma cancer is a mix of Alimta ® and Cisplatin, delivered intravenously, with 21 days in between each subsequent injection. Asbestos lung cancer carcinomas are also treatable with chemotherapy. Because asbestos cancer incidence of this type is far more common (and not necessarily straight attributable to asbestos exposure), there are a lot more chemotherapy choices available to clients.
External beam radiation is popular amongst patients getting treatment for pleural and peritoneal cancer. Pericardial cancer patients may also make use of radiation in the control of their cancer, but in lower dosages considering the area’s proximity to the heart. Radiation therapy is thought about helpful for palliation too to prevent malignant cells from taking hold once again following surgical treatment.
As part of developing research studies into the control of asbestos cancer through radiotherapy, researchers have started using brachytherapy to control mesothelioma growth spread and development. Brachytherapy is an internal radiation source implanted in the afflicted area which has actually revealed promise in clinical research studies in minimizing tumor mass and slowing down. Every year, survival rates are extended even further and more funding is now being invested in research study to examine new choices for treatment. Researchers want to, one day, discover a cure for mesothelioma.
How to Get Diagnosed
For Mesothelioma, cancer specialists will approach a mesothelioma diagnosis by first testing symptoms. This initial testing is usually to see if symptoms are being caused by a more common disease. As part of this process, the doctor will obtain a full medical history from the patient. This usually will include asking the patient about any exposure to asbestos.
After these steps have been taken, the doctor will usually perform a series of tests, some of these tests could include imaging scans and blood tests. Most of the time if these tests indicate a potential for mesothelioma, a biopsy will be taken. Biopsy Tests are normally the only way to give a definitive Mesothelioma Diagnosis.
All forms of Mesothelioma have a poor long term prognosis. Catching the disease early on can potentially improve life expectancy. Having mesothelioma diagnosed before it spreads can increase the effectiveness of treatments and clinical trial options.
In light of the current difficulty in curing the disease, most research and development around all forms of mesothelioma is focused around improving early detection and diagnosis of the disease. This includes recent developments of new biomarker blood tests, which can detect the presence of substances that indicate mesothelioma may be present in the body.
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Asbestos Exposure & Cancer
The only known cause of Mesothelioma is Asbestos Exposure. Asbestos dust and particles that have been inhaled or ingested cause inflammation and disruption of normal cell growth on a microscopic level. This can lead to the development of mesothelioma cancer. Thousands of industrial, commercial and consumer products were manufactured with asbestos from the 1940’s through as late as the 1990’s in some cases. Most of these companies knew the deadly effects that exposing their employees and customers would cause and yet still continued to use the deadly substance due to corporate greed. For this reason many lawsuits have been brought against these companies on behalf of Mesothelioma Victims. Understanding that Mesothelioma is a lethal cancer, this directly means that whoever exposed you or your loved one to Asbestos dust is responsible for their death.
Here at the Asbestos Cancer Organization we have teamed up with a Top Mesothelioma Law firm. The Lawyers at Goldberg, Persky & White have been fighting and winning Mesothelioma cases for Mesothelioma clients for over 40 years. We strongly suggest that if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma that they seek legal consultation with our partners at Goldberg, Persky & White. They are the best of the best. Their experienced Mesothelioma lawyers will continue fighting Mesothelioma cases for their clients and assist all persons diagnosed with Mesothelioma.
Most asbestos exposure originates from the thousands of products that contained asbestos. People who worked in industries like steel mills, foundries, power plants, chemical plants, refineries, paper mills, glass manufacturing, iron smelting and aluminum manufacturing from the 1940s through the 1990’s were most likely exposed to asbestos dust. A lot of the insulation, refractories and friction products used by these industries during this time period contained asbestos. Construction workers including laborers, insulators, brick layers, electricians, machinists, millwrights, plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, iron workers, boilermakers, carpenters, plasterers, drywall workers and even superintendents, engineers and architects who worked in any form of construction from the 1940’s through the 1990’s could have been exposed to Asbestos dust. There were numerous asbestos containing construction materials sold by the asbestos companies.
The chances of being exposed to asbestos particles in these settings does not decrease even if a worker was never personally handling asbestos containing products. If someone worked in the same area where work with asbestos products was conducted they also inhaled the deadly toxins. Most companies that manufactured or sold asbestos products did not provide warnings to their customers, many workers unwittingly introduced asbestos dust into their homes on their contaminated work clothing, subjecting their wives and even their children to enough asbestos exposure to cause mesothelioma. It has recently been found that some common talcum powders, including baby powder, shaving powders, cosmetic and hygiene talcum powders, contained dangerous levels of asbestos sufficient to cause mesothelioma.
Top Mesothelioma Doctors
Only the best, just for you.
Dr. Raphael Bueno is the Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery and Vice Chair of Surgery for Cancer and Translational Research at Boston’s Brigham and
Dr. Harvey Pass is a renowned thoracic surgeon that has dedicated his career to bringing increased awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure.
Dr. Robert Brian Cameron currently serves as the Director of Thoracic Oncology at University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, Department of Surgery.
Dr. David Sugarbaker is a world-renowned doctor and certified thoracic surgeon widely credited for developing the first tri-modal treatment approach for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Dr. Lary A. Robinson is currently the Director of the Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida.
As director of the mesothelioma program at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston, Anne Tsao M.D. is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on malignant mesothelioma.
What Treatments are Available for Mesothelioma?
On behalf of the Asbestos Cancer Organization, we would prefer if you consulted a professional medical physician for any advice related to treatment options and care. We care deeply about your situation and only want the very best for you & your family. We have some of Top Mesothelioma Doctors & Clinical Trials listed on our website. Why not check out the Top Mesothelioma Doctors page or even the Clinical Trials page for more accurate information on who can help you & what clinical trials are available to apply for. We also have some of the Top Cancer Centers listed on our website as well.
Regarding your health, it is always best to make final decisions when speaking to a professional medical doctor. Please contact us and we will do our best to connect you with a Top Mesothelioma Doctor.
We’ve collected a database of the Top Mesothelioma Doctors from around the country. Search for them here.
Costs Related to Mesothelioma
As with all types of cancer, Mesothelioma costs can be extremely high, often hundreds of thousands of dollars. The costs associated with the disease can be lumped into several categories: Diagnostic Testing Costs, Treatment Costs, Follow up, Recovery and Care Expenses.
How much a family spends on mesothelioma care will likely depend on a variety of factors. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to: the exact diagnosis, the stage when the disease is diagnosed, what is covered by insurance, and even where the patient lives. Asbestos exposure is the only proven cause of mesothelioma, those who are diagnosed with this deadly cancer may be able to receive financial assistance for many different things, from lost income to medical costs, as well as damages for pain and suffering related to the disease. On behalf of the Asbestos Cancer Organization, we would like to recommend that if you or a loved one has been diagnosed, you should strongly consider taking legal steps to help offset this potential financial burden.
Learn more about the financial assistance that is available if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma. Financial aid options available to you can include Mesothelioma trust fund claims and a lawsuit against responsible members of the asbestos industry. Companies that exposed you or your loved one to Asbestos dust are directly responsible for your current condition. You should explore your legal right to compensation from asbestos companies liable for your exposure to asbestos. Here at the Asbestos Cancer Organization we have teamed up with a Top Mesothelioma Law firm. The Lawyers at Goldberg, Persky & White having been fighting and winning Mesothelioma cases for Mesothelioma clients for over 40 years. We highly suggest that if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma that they seek legal consultation with our legal partners at Goldberg, Persky & White. They are the Best of the Best. Their experienced Mesothelioma lawyers will continue fighting Mesothelioma cases for their clients and assist anyone who develops Mesothelioma.
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