How is mesothelioma treated?
Our team of specialists focuses on a multimodality approach — a combination of several treatments — to best treat mesothelioma. We’ll create a treatment plan just for you, to meet your physical, as well as psychological, social and spiritual needs. Your treatment plan may include:
Treatment for mesothelioma often involves surgery to remove large portions of affected tissue. The most common surgery types are:
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy – In this procedure, we remove all organs affected by mesothelioma. This may include the lung, lymph glands and parts of the diaphragm and the pericardium.
- Pleurectomy or pleurectomy/decortication – A procedure that removes the tumor from the lung, diaphragm and chest wall, while the organ structures remain intact.
- Cytoreductive surgery (debulking) – A procedure for peritoneal mesothelioma. Surgeons remove the tumors, as well as parts of the tissue that lines your abdomen and abdominal organs, such as the gallbladder, liver and spleen.
- Peritonectomy – A procedure that peels off tumors that aren’t yet coming through the surface of the lining.
Chemotherapy uses medicine that goes through the body to kill cancer cells wherever they are. It may be used as the primary treatment method for mesothelioma that has spread extensively. It’s also used after surgery and is often combined with radiation (chemoradiation).
Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)
HIPEC delivers a highly concentrated, heated chemotherapy treatment directly to the cancerous area during surgery to remove the tumors. Unlike systemic chemotherapy delivery that circulates throughout the body, HIPEC delivers chemotherapy directly to cancer cells.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink, or get rid of, tumors. The most common type of radiation therapy used for mesothelioma includes:
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) – Used to treat the lining around your lung. IMRT focuses a precise dose of radiation on the tumor. This approach protects other parts of your body from being exposed to radiation. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT or CAT) or positive emission tomography (PET) scans can help your team identify all the places in the body to target IMRT during treatment.
- Radiation therapy after surgery – If your surgeon removes one of your lungs in a procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy, we may recommend radiation therapy after the procedure to help prevent recurrence. We usually start radiation therapy four to six weeks after surgery. It involves daily sessions for five to six weeks.
Our interventional oncologists may also use minimally invasive therapies to treat your cancer. These treatments may include:
- Cryoablation (also called cryotherapy or cryosurgery) – A needle is inserted near the tumor and gas is sent through the needle into the area around the tumor. The gas freezes the tumor and destroys cancer cells.
- Radiofrequency ablation or microwave ablation – This procedure uses imaging technology and needle-like probes to deliver heat directly to the tumor. The probe uses radiofrequency or microwave energy to quickly and effectively destroy the cancer cells.
Targeted therapy uses innovative drugs to target specific genes or proteins in cancer cells to help stop cancer from growing and spreading.
Immunotherapy is a promising cancer treatment that uses specially created drugs to activate the immune system to target and kill cells. It’s increasingly being used in clinical trials to treat mesothelioma.
A multidisciplinary team of cancer experts including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, plastic reconstructive surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, genetic counselors, medical geneticists, social workers, patient navigators and clinical trials staff meet weekly to discuss select complex cases and determine the best course of care.
Miami Cancer Institute can provide access to clinical trials not widely available elsewhere. Clinical trials find new ways to treat and diagnose cancer and are ongoing. If an appropriate trial is available, we will talk to you about the benefits and risks.