Medical scientists continue to develop improved diagnostic methods and treatments for those afflicted with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that forms outside the lungs in the pleural lining – a thin membrane within the chest cavity.
Mesothelioma is most successfully treated when diagnosed early and has not spread throughout the body.
Asbestos’s role in causing mesothelioma has risen to the level of a public health concern, as researchers have now been studying how asbestos fibers cause cancer for decades. Because the dangers are known, controlling and limiting asbestos exposure has helped to level off (and even decrease) new cases since the 1990s. This is relevant in industries like auto mechanics, factory/machinery jobs, maintenance and repair work, construction, fire fighters, and more.
Asbestos treatments may include one (or a combination) of these treatment therapies –
- Chemotherapy– this type of therapy slows mesothelioma tumor growth but is typically only helpful on a temporary basis. It is noted that medical scientists are studying ways to combine chemo drug therapy with other therapies, like immunotherapy – a method to help the body’s immune system attack present cancer.
- Photodynamic Therapy(PDT) – this treatment kills cancer cells by injecting these drugs into the patient. Light is then introduced that ‘activates’ the drug that kills cancer. The type of treatment only activates drugs exposed to the light, thereby likely reducing the detrimental side effects of other treatment methods.
- Targeted Therapy– these drugs target the changes to cells invaded by cancer.
Newer Treatments for Mesothelioma
Medical scientists recognize the challenge in fighting mesothelioma and continue to investigate additional treatment options. The research for these newer treatments is still in its early stages; however, many of these newer treatments offer great promise.
- Vaccine Therapy – as researchers know, some types of cancers are sourced from a virus, which can be hopefully prevented through the use of a vaccine. This is widely available and recommended for young adults with regard to the HPV (Human Papillomavirus).
The patient’s immune cells are extracted, treated, and placed back in the patient in hopes that the ‘treated cells’ attack cancer. Other vaccines are being tested using proteins that are introduced into cells that seek to prohibit the existing cancer’s growth.
- Gene Therapy – this newer treatment type seeks to introduce new genes to existing cancer cells with the hope that the cancer cells become easier to kill. Studies have used modified viruses (done by laboratory scientists) that have been injected into the pleural space to infect the cancer cells.
Before a patient makes any final decisions regarding a treatment plan, it is vital to understand both the medical and legal risks of this critical life decision. Because mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, it is prudent to seek a second medical opinion if time allows.
Because the primary risk factor for mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, it is also important for patients to consider speaking with a legal professional to discuss their rights as a patient and an employee. If you have concerns about the source/cause of mesothelioma, you may reach out to experienced mesothelioma attorneys such as those at Simmons Hanly & Conroy.