Mesothelioma Treatment

Active Treatment:

A range of active treatments is recommended for some people with mesothelioma. These aim to control or cure cancer and can include chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery, which may be used alone or in combination. Trimodality therapy for pleural mesothelioma is a combination of all three.Each person with mesothelioma is different and there is no standard treatment path. Your specialist will discuss your treatment options with you, and these will depend on a number of factors including

the location, stage, and type of mesothelioma, which helps estimate the likelihood of response to treatment.

Deciding to Pursue Active Treatment:

The active cancer treatments help some people to achieve a longer period of control over the disease and improve their quality of life. It is important to realize that most are intensive treatments and they are not suitable for everyone.

Tests Before Surgery:

FDG-PET – A positron emission tomography (PET) scan identifies radiation from a low-level radioactive medication that is infused into the body. In a FDG-PET, the medication utilized is called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). The FDG shows up regions of anomalous tissue.

MRI Scan – A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan uses magnetic waves to create detailed cross-sectional pictures of the soft tissues in your body.

Mediastinoscopy – This procedure is used to sample the lymph nodes at the center of the chest. A small cut is made in the lower neck, and an instrument is inserted to remove some lymph node tissue from the area between the lungs (mediastinum).

Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) – This procedure may be used along with or instead of mediastinoscopy.A tube called a bronchoscope, which has a small ultrasound probe on the end, will be put down your throat into your trachea. This allows the respiratory physician to target lymph nodes for biopsy.

Surgical Staging:

Before radical surgery for pleural mesothelioma, a less extensive operation may sample lymph nodes and other areas of the body. Surgical staging is not advised before a peritonectomy for peritoneal mesothelioma.


Chemotherapy treats cancer using drugs known as cytotoxins. It aims to destroy cancer cells while causing the least possible damage to healthy cells. The main chemotherapy drugs for pleural mesothelioma are pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin or carboplatin. Research shows this combination can increase survival by a few months more than using a single drug. However, chemotherapy doesn’t work for some people.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy:

People react to chemotherapy drugs differently. Some people will have few side effects, while others will have more.

The most common side effects of chemotherapy are tiredness and feeling weak,nausea,vomiting bowel problems (diarrhoea or constipation related to anti-nausea drugs), sore or dry mouth, or small ulcers in the mouth, taste changes and or loss of appetite,increased risk of infection (low level of white blood cells) and anaemia (low level of red blood cells),reduced kidney function, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), skin changes ,numb or tingling hands,feet red.

While hair loss and scalp problems are rare with chemotherapy for mesothelioma, there may be hair thinning. Some people have trouble thinking clearly or experience short-term memory loss after chemotherapy, but this usually improves once treatment ends.

Side effects depend on the type and dose of chemotherapy drugs. Your specialist may prescribe vitamin B12 injections and low-dose folic acid, which have been shown to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy with pemetrexed and cisplatin. You will also be given medicines (such as anti-nausea medicine) to help control any side effects that are likely to occur. If side effects become too difficult to manage, your oncologist can adjust the dose or type of chemotherapy.


Otherwise called radiation treatment, radiotherapy utilizes radiation, for example, x-ray to kill or harm cancer cells. Radiotherapy might be utilized at various phases of pleural mesothelioma treatment and in various ways. It can relieve pain or different manifestations caused by tumors (palliative radiotherapy).

Radiotherapy is likewise given after chemotherapy and surgery (adjuvant radiotherapy) to help kill remaining cancer cells.

Treatment is carefully planned to destroy as many cancer cells as possible while causing the least harm to your normal tissue. The underlying arrangement to outline the treatment (recreation) may take a couple of hours. You will have CT scan of the influenced zone, and your skin might be set apart with an extraordinary ink. This ensures the radiation is coordinated at a similar place on your body each time you get radiotherapy. Despite the fact that the ink is changeless, the stamp is the extent of a freckle. A session, as a rule, keeps going around 20 minutes in light of the fact that the radiation advisors need to set up the hardware and position you, yet the treatment itself takes just a couple of minutes. The length of the treatment course will fluctuate contingent upon why you’re having radiotherapy – it may include 1– 10 sessions for up to two weeks for palliative treatment, or more if radiotherapy is consolidated with different medicines with the point of long haul control. Radiotherapy doesn’t hurt and you aren’t radioactive subsequently.

Side Effects of Radiotherapy:

Radiotherapy may cause various side effects during treatment or shortly afterward, but most side effects go away after the treatment stops.

Your doctors and nurses will tell you what side effects to expect and how to manage them. The most common side effects are fatigue, peeling, cracked skin that looks red or sunburnt and may be painful, painful swallowing, loss of hair in the treatment area. Radiotherapy to the chest area can cause difficulty swallowing and symptoms of reflux for a few days or weeks, sometimes leading to weight loss. If high doses of radiotherapy are given to the chest area, it may cause permanent changes (fibrosis) in the lung tissue.

Trimodality Therapy:

Trimodality therapy includes a combination of induction chemotherapy, radical surgery (also called cytoreductive surgery) and radical radiotherapy. The aim of the three phases is to remove as much pleural mesothelioma as possible, stop any remaining mesothelioma cells from growing or spreading and prolong disease-free living. The benefits of tri-modality therapy for pleural mesothelioma are not yet clear. Not all mesothelioma specialists recommend tri-modality therapy and it’s available only in a few specialist centers. There have not yet been an evidence-based trial comparing the results of tri-modality treatment to less intensive treatment.

The Three Phases of Trimodality Therapy:

1.Induction Chemotherapy Phase- Three cycles of chemotherapy are given to shrink a tumor. A scan then checks the size of a tumor. If it has been reduced, you will have a rest for 4–6 weeks before having surgery. If there is little or no response, you will not have radical surgery.

2.Radical Surgery Phase- The surgery is usually an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP).It removes the affected lung as well as parts of the lining of the heart (pericardium), the lining of the chest (parietal pleura) and diaphragm. Lymph nodes in the center of the chest that drain the lung are also removed. Mesh is used to repairing the pericardium and diaphragm. You’ll stay in the hospital for 10–14 days, or longer if complications occur. Once at home, recovery can take 6–8 weeks and then you’ll be able to start radiotherapy.

3.Radical Radiotherapy Phase- This phase aims to treat the tumor cells that may still be present. Radiotherapy is delivered using intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). This type of radiotherapy can be accurately shaped around the chest cavity to allow higher doses to be delivered directly to the tumor cells while minimising the damage to other organs in the chest and abdomen. The side effects of radiotherapy usually become more intense as treatment progresses. Most people start to feel better 2–3 weeks after treatment ends.

Who Can Have Trimodality Therapy – Only a small number of people with pleural mesothelioma have tri-modality therapy each year as it is only suitable for people:

1.With a small amount of pleural mesothelioma at an early stage (T1–T3) with an epithelioid type of pleural mesothelioma

2.Whose scans show a good response to chemotherapy before surgery and no signs of pleural mesothelioma progression

3.with no signs of spreading into the lymph nodes or any other disease on CT and or FDG-PET scans

4.who are able to live independently with one lung.

5.who are physically fit enough for surgery.

Active Treatment for Peritoneal Mesothelioma:

Peritonectomy- It is possible for some people to have an operation called a peritonectomy(or cytoreductive surgery).During this procedure, a surgeon removes the parts of the peritoneum where the mesothelioma is growing.

The aim of peritonectomy is to achieve the complete removal of cancer to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and increase life expectancy.

Peritonectomy surgery is complex and recovery can take a long time. Whether this surgery is an option for you will depend on a number of factors including your overall health and fitness, and whether the small bowel is cancer-free.

Radiotherapy-Radiotherapy is rarely used for peritoneal mesothelioma as the doses required would cause too much damage to the liver, kidneys and other organs in the abdomen.

Chemotherapy- Chemotherapy is sometimes used to treat peritoneal mesothelioma. It may be given as a systemic treatment (into the bloodstream) on its own or before or after surgery. Systemic chemotherapy for peritoneal mesothelioma is similar to that given for pleural mesothelioma.If you have a peritonectomy, you will have chemotherapy directly into the abdomen. This is known as intraperitoneal chemotherapy and may be given in three ways:

1.HIPEC – Heated intraoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) may be given as part of peritonectomy. For this “hot chemotherapy”, the drugs are heated to 42.5°C and inserted into the abdomen for 60–90 minutes during the operation.

2.EPIC – After surgery, chemotherapy may be delivered into the abdomen through a thin tube. When given soon after surgery as a single course, it is called early postoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy (EPIC).

3.NIPEC – There is evidence that receiving a long-term course of normothermic (normal temperature) intraperitoneal chemotherapy (NIPEC) may offer some benefit.

How  To Drain Fluid Around The Lungs:

You may have a procedure to drain the fluid from around the lungs or abdomen. If you have gone to the doctor with symptoms, this may be done before mesothelioma is diagnosed.

Pleural Tap – Also known as pl-euro centesis or thoracentesis, a pleural tap drains fluid from around the lungs. To drain the fluid, your doctor can numb the area with a local anesthetic and insert a needle through the skin. An ultrasound scan is used to help the doctor guide the needle to where the fluid is. A pleural tap can also be done when a biopsy is taken during the keyhole surgery called VATS(Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery).

Peritoneal Tap – In peritoneal mesothelioma, the fluid that has built up in the abdomen (ascites) can be drained with a needle guided by ultrasound. This procedure is called a peritoneal tap or paracentesis and may be done while you are still having tests.

Talc Pleurodesis– To prevent fluid building up again in the lining of the lungs, you may have a talc pleurodesis. This is best done when you are having a pleural tap during VATS, but may also be done under local anesthetic by a respiratory physician. Pleurodesis means closing the pleural space.The doctor inserts sterile talcum powder (talc slurry) into the pleural cavity. The talc slurry causes an inflammatory reaction that helps to fuse the two layers of the pleura together. After pleurodesis, some people experience a burning pain in the chest for 24–48 hours. This pain can be eased with medication.

Talc pleurodesis is sometimes done during the process of diagnosing pleural mesothelioma.

Pleurectomy and Pulmonary Decortication – When fluid is drained and talc pleurodesis is done during VATS, some of the outer linings of the chest wall and lung may also be removed.This is known as parietal pleurectomy(because only the outer pleura is removed) and pulmonary decortication.

Open Surgery (thoracotomy) with Pleurectomy and Pulmonary Decortication –

Following VATS and powder pleurodesis, the liquid develops around the lungs may return, influencing you to feel short of breath once more. The specialist may propose more broad surgery called thoracotomy with pleurectomy and pulmonary decortication. This surgery may likewise be prescribed as a first alternative if a cancer has developed in a way that makes it hard to perform VATS effectively.

Under a general analgesic, the specialist will open the chest by making a slice from the back to the side of the chest, and between the ribs. The pleural liquid is depleted and the piece of the pleura most influenced with cancer is expelled. Now and again, the greater part of the pleura might be expelled. After this technique, the anesthetist expands the lung and the specialist shuts the chest. Tubes are left set up in the chest for no less than 48 hours to deplete blood and any air that is spilling from the surface of the lung.

Open surgery avoids liquid working up again as a rule. It likewise makes it less demanding for the lungs to extend and to exchange oxygen to the blood. Pain can last longer than after VATS, yet the change in side effects may make open surgery an advantageous choice if VATS has been unsuccessful or isn’t conceivable.

Indwelling Pleural Catheter – Some people cannot have VATS or open surgery, either because they are too unwell or because cancer has grown in a way that makes the surgery too difficult. In this case, you may be offered an indwelling pleural catheter (also known as a drain) to help your breathing. This can also be used if the pleural fluid builds up again after pleurodesis. Under local anesthetic, the specialist will insert a thin tube (the catheter) through the chest wall into the pleural cavity. You can manage the drain at home with the help of a community nurse, family member or friend. When you need to drain the fluid (usually once or twice a week), the catheter can be connected to a bottle.

Sometimes with an indwelling pleural catheter, the pleural cavity may close up over time and stop producing fluid. If this occurs, the drain will be removed.

Indwelling Peritoneal Catheter – If fluid keeps building up around the abdomen, a small tube can be inserted to allow fluid to flow out of the body into a bottle. This is known as an indwelling peritoneal catheter or drain and is managed similarly to an indwelling pleural drain  


Key points:

1.The type of treatment you have will depend on the location, stage, and type of mesothelioma as well as your age, health and fitness.

2.Active cancer treatment for pleural mesothelioma may include chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

3.Chemotherapy for pleural mesothelioma often uses pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin or carboplatin.

4.Radiotherapy may be used at different stages of pleural mesothelioma and in different ways. It may be used to relieve pain or shrink tumors,or given after chemotherapy and surgery to kill remaining cancer cells.

5.Some people with pleural mesothelioma may be offered tri modality therapy, with chemotherapy first, followed by major surgery, and then radiotherapy.The surgery removes the affected lung and parts of the pericardium, parietal pleura, and diaphragm.This is known as an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP).

6.Active cancer treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma may include surgery and chemotherapy.

7.Some people with peritoneal mesothelioma can have a peritonectomy. This major surgery aims to remove all of cancer by removing parts of the peritoneum.

8.Chemotherapy for peritoneal mesothelioma may be systemic (given into the bloodstream) or intraperitoneal (given directly into the abdomen).

9.New trials are testing targeted therapy and immunotherapy drugs.