Surgery is the most used treatment option with patients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. It used with other types of treatments, which can help increase the success rate of a mesothelioma surgery.
Should I consider surgery as a treatment option?
When a patient who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and first meets with a specialist, they should anticipate hearing the words surgery before the end of the consultation. At this moment, surgery to remove the affected tissue is the number one method for halting the aggressive form of cancer in its tracks.
Combining the surgery with either radiation or chemotherapy, and in some cases both, does wonders to extend a patient’s life expectancy, as well as the quality of their life.
Reasons Specialists Suggest Mesothelioma Surgery
Increased Survival Rate
A Reduction in Pain
Various Mesothelioma Surgical Options
Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP)
Dr. David Sugarbaker developed EPP surgery which has been very effective when treating patients that have stage 1 or 2 pleural mesothelioma. This type of curative surgery requires the removal of the affected portions of the lung, diaphragm, and pleura.
Once the tumors have been removed, a Gore-Tex patch is used to help stabilize the area and fill the additional space in the cavity. In most cases, patients need to stay in the hospital for 10-14 days to recover and will need to take it easy for 8 weeks after returning home. Post-surgery respiratory therapy is generally required.
Patients who combine EPP with radiation or chemotherapy treatments stand the greatest chance of beating the mesothelioma. 65% of the patients who combined the treatments survived a full 2 years longer than patients that didn’t and 15% have lived up to 5 years longer than they expected to. Some have seen their cancer go into remission.
The success of EPP surgery is quite good. Far better than it used to be. In 1976, the surgery had a mortality rate of 31%. Today the mortality rate is just 7%
It’s often recommended that patients with stage 1 or who are just entering stage 2 pleural mesothelioma undergo P/D treatment. The surgery removes cancerous tumors from the lung’s pleura. This highly successful mesothelioma treatment is the creating of Dr. Robert Cameron.
Patients who have had P/D often enjoy a higher quality of life following the treatment than patients who opted out of the treatment.
It’s not unusual for both radiation and chemotherapy to be a part of the patient’s treatment both before and after the P/D surgery. Studies and clinical trials indicate that the use of both cisplatin and alimta following the surgery significantly increase survival rates. Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) is frequently used following the P/D surgery and does wonder for preventing the development of future tumors.
The mortality rate of P/D surgery is approximately 5%.
Cytoreduction with HIPEC
This type of surgery removes the abdomen’s lining, where cancer cells often start to form tumors. It’s a surgery used on patient’s that have been diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma and is combined with heated intraoperative chemotherapy (HIPEC). Cytoreduction can be performed on patients in each stage of pericardial mesothelioma, with the chances of success being higher in patients who are otherwise in good health.
When done on patients in the early stages of pericardial mesothelioma, the surgery acts as a curative treatment. Patients who are in the later stages of the disease find it significantly helps decrease their pain.
The surgery takes approximately 10 hours to complete and extends the life of a person in the early stages of pericardial mesothelioma by an average length of 87.2 months.
Hyperthermic intraoperative chemotherapy (HIPEC) is commonly used during cytoreduction surgery and has been a highly successful part of the treatment. The use of the HIPEC treatment has extended the life of the average patient by as much as 36 months, including those patients who were stage 3 and 4 of the disease. After receiving the HIPEC in their treatment 85% of the patients noted a significant decrease in pain.
Pericardial mesothelioma is very rare. Only 0.7% of the mesothelioma cases reported each year are this particular type of cancer. When it’s diagnosed in a patient, the best way to treat it involve removing the heart’s lining via pericardiectomy surgery. Following the surgery, Gore-tex is used to provide the heart with an artificial pericardium which protects if it for the rest of the patient’s life.
Pericardiectomy surgery usually requires that the patient remain in the hospital for up to 2 weeks following the surgery, which is followed by an additional 3 months of recovery time in their own home.
No matter what stage a patient’s mesothelioma is, palliative surgeries are an option. The purpose of palliative surgeries is to remove fluid buildup. Palliative surgeries improve the quality of life for patient’s by easing pain and pressure.
There are different types of palliative surgeries, including:
- Pleurodesis which is used to help prevent the buildup of fluids by closing up pleural space.
- Thoracentesis surgery which is done by inserting a needle into the lungs to drain the fluid Provides instant relief but doesn’t prevent future fluid buildup.
- Paracentesis is a surgery done with a needle that drains fluid from the abdominal cavity.
- Pericardiocentesis surgery results in the drainage of fluid from the heart’s pericardium. A needle is used to drain the fluid.
Which is the Best Surgery for You?
When you meet with your oncologist to discuss treatment options, there are several factors that need to be taken into account before the curative or palliative surgery is selected. Factors include:
- Where the cancerous cells and tumors are located
- What stage of mesothelioma you’re in
- What your overall health is like
The more advanced your cancer is, the less likely it is that you’ll be eligible for a curative form of mesothelioma surgery.
Don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion before you undergo mesothelioma surgery. You can choose a doctor with the help of our free Doctor Match program.
Mesothelioma is a very rare type of cancer. There aren’t many oncologists in the country who have the experience and tools needed to properly treat it. Putting yourself in the hands of an experienced mesothelioma specialists is the best way to extend both the quality and length of your life.