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July 3, 2008

How Many treatments are currently being used for victims of asbestos diseases?

Author: Bobby Dhanoa

Mesothelioma is touted as deadly because most of the cases are
diagnosed when in advanced stage and doctors have little solace
to offer by then. Still doctors try to do their best to relieve
the patients from severe pain of mesothelioma using advanced

Surgery Before considering surgery as one of the propositions
for the treatment of malignant cancer, the health of the patient
needs to be carefully evaluated. The tests are performed to
check whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
or not. Also evaluation of the patient’s lung and heart
functions is done. In case of the former, a mesothelioma surgery
cannot be performed. Both the heart and lungs need to be
properly functioning state for surgery to take place.

Surgery is of two types: aggressive surgery (long-term control)
and palliative procedures (relief of symptoms). Let’s define
each of them separately.

Aggressive surgery Aggressive surgery involves removal of the
lung, the pleura, the diaphragm and the pericardium by a
procedure, which is known as extra pleural pneumonectomy. The
intention to follow this method is to physically remove as much
of the tumor as possible. It is in fact adopting a bold method
to do away with the disease�"hence the name is “Aggressive
surgery”. This surgery is extremely complicated and involves
high risk. This is because of the fact that there are possible
chances of death due to the same within a month. Extra pleural
pneumonectomy is therefore normally performed on younger
patients who are in good health and are in a position to
tolerate the surgery.

Palliative Procedures Palliative procedures are normally
performed when the cancer is in its advanced form. These
procedures are performed to control the symptoms of mesothelioma
rather than cure them. Pleurectomy (also decortications) is the
process to surgically remove the pleura. This method reduces the
pain caused by the cancerous mass and may also prevent the
recurrence of pleural effusion (fluid collection which causes
tremendous breathlessness). For patients suffering from
peritoneal mesothelioma, complete surgical removal of the entire
tumor is not entirely possible. In this case the surgery aims to
extenuate the symptoms, such as ascites,

Chemotherapy Chemotherapy is the method in which drugs are used
to treat mesothelioma. It has been observed that this method is
partially succesfull. This is because the patient recovers
partially after using drugs or combination of drugs (In fact the
efficacy of this method increases, if combination of drugs are
used at the same time.) Some of these combinations have proved
successful and new drugs are being developed for the treatment
of this cancer.

Radiation Therapy In this method the tumor is killed by using
radiation doses. However, with the help of this procedure,
killing the tumor cells is quite difficult. This is because of
the fact that it is difficult to specifically locate the
malignant cells. Also the heart, lungs and other organs may
surround the same, and they are at the risk of getting damaged
by the radiation dosage. However lower doses of radiation can be
used to reduce the disease to a certain extent.

Dual Therapy Both chemotherapy and radiation are used in
conjunction after the performance of the surgery. They both help
in killing any remaining tumor cells that were not removed by
surgery and may also help in relieving symptoms of the disease
like chest pain.

The treatment methods, which are described above, are direct
ways of treating a person suffering from mesothelioma. However
doctors and researchers are always on the lookout for new ways
to treat mesothelioma. The necessity for the evolution of
alternative ways to treat patients suffering from mesothelioma
arises because of the complex nature of different types of
cancers, and because patients respond differently to various
types of medical care. Some of them are as follows:

Immunoagumentive Therapy (IAT) The goal of IAT is to strengthen
the body's own immune system. The same is done by balancing four
different proteins found in the blood.

Intraoperative Photodynamic Therapy (IPT) This method of
treatment is being used to cure early stages of mesothelioma in
the chest. IPT uses special drugs and light to kill cancer cells
during surgery. A drug that makes tumor cells more sensitive to
light is injected into a vein several days before surgery.
During surgery, a special light is used to locate the cancer.

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