Around 20 million people living in the United States are at risk of developing mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to the various types of asbestos. This number is considered conservative, and the actual number is difficult to calculate because asbestos is still present in many forms.
Despite its long latency period of 10 to 20 years, mesothelioma is almost always deadly if not treated early. Fortunately, there are a few aggressive and experimental mesothelioma treatment options.
Approved Mesothelioma Treatment Options
There are a few standard treatment options for this deadly form of cancer. These methods have the Food and Drug Administration's endorsement, have been thoroughly researched, and are somewhat effective.
When the disease is caught in its earliest stages, complete removal of the cancerous tumors is possible. Unfortunately, most mesothelioma symptoms are difficult to recognize when they first start, and catching it early is difficult. If a surgeon can remove the entire tumor and the surgery is followed up by other treatment methods, the chances of survival for more than a year will improve.
Chemotherapy is a very common but harsh treatment for a variety of cancers. It relies on toxins to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells, but it has several very difficult side effects.
Radiation is another common treatment for most types of cancer. It uses radioactive bombardment to kill cancer cells. It will, however, cause radiation sickness and other issues such as hair loss.
Experimental Mesothelioma Treatment Options
In recent years, scientists and doctors have been studying different methods for treating this dangerous form of cancer.
Immunotherapy is an emerging treatment for cancer and other diseases. Doctors either stimulate or suppress the immune system. Cancer cells have a variety of defenses against immune response. They have specific proteins that make them invisible to the body or turn off the immune system entirely.
Immunotherapy programs your immune system to recognize and attack the cancer. This is particularly important when the mesothelioma has metastasized.
Cellular mRNA Treatment
Cellular mRNA treatment uses messenger RNA to tag or recode the DNA of the cancer cells. This works similarly to immunotherapy because it causes the body to recognize the cancer cells as a foreign element. Like most experimental treatments, it is under study but is not approved yet. You can access these studies by asking your care provider.
Whether you decide on conventional treatment or a more aggressive approach, there is hope that the treatment can extend your life. Most people begin with accepted methods and move onto experimental when the mesothelioma begins to spread.