Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that occurs in the heart, lung, or stomach lining, causing shortness of breath and chronic cough. People who have been exposed to asbestos, a natural heat-resistant substance, are at a higher risk. Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma in Pennsylvania have several treatment options.
Surgery attempts to completely or partially remove the tumors and reduce pain in early stages of cancer. Patients get referred to a specialist based on the type of mesothelioma, the stage, and if they meet the health requirements.
A thoracic surgeon treats the heart, called pericardial mesothelioma, and chest area, called pleural mesothelioma. A gastrointestinal surgeon commonly treats peritoneal mesothelioma, which occurs in the stomach lining. Surgery commonly gives the patient the best chance at longer survival rates.
Patients who do not qualify for surgery commonly opt for chemotherapy to slow the growth of cancer cells. One study found patients who took a combination chemotherapy had a survival rate three times longer than those who did not take the medicine.
Chemotherapy treatment uses the drugs pemetrexed, carboplatin, and cisplatin, either administered one at a time or in combination. Most doctors start the patient taking three or four cycles of the drugs at three-weeks, which could take 30 minutes to several hours per session.
Radiation uses a highly concentrated light beam to destroy the DNA in cancer cells, so they can’t grow back. A common type of radiation is external beam radiation, which uses a source outside the body, such as an X-ray.
Radiation used in combination with surgery may extend the patient’s life up to five years. Sometimes, doctors apply radiation after surgery to ensure no tumors remain.
Laws regulate the use of asbestos, but some industries still use it, increasing a worker’s risk of severe mesothelioma. Victims might want to meet with an attorney and learn if there is any recourse against the owner of the work facility where it was contracted.