Top 5 Treatment Options for Seniors with Mesothelioma

By Nicole Winch

Seniors diagnosed with mesothelioma have a variety of options when it comes to treatment. The type of care your loved one receives will be determined after a doctor or specialist evaluates them. Since each person’s diagnosis is unique, treatment will vary on an individual basis. While there is no specific treatment that cures mesothelioma, an early diagnosis and aggressive treatment can lead to your loved one going into remission.

Here are the top mesothelioma treatment options available for seniors.

1. Surgery

The primary treatment method for seniors with mesothelioma is surgery. There are various surgical procedures available, each one depending on the type of mesothelioma your loved one has.

The main goal of surgery is to remove as much as the disease as possible. However, when combined with chemotherapy and/or radiation, results can be even more effective. Surgery is an invasive approach to treating mesothelioma and some doctors may not recommend this method as there could be complications. You or your loved one should find a surgeon that specializes in mesothelioma procedures, as they can operate with fewer complications.

2. Chemotherapy

One of the standard types of treatment is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy involves anti-cancer drugs and can be used in seniors who have any stage of malignant mesothelioma. The main purpose of these drugs is to kill mesothelioma cells and prevent their spreading, which will shrink the tumors.

There are a variety of chemotherapy drugs that may work for your loved one. The two chemotherapy drugs approved for mesothelioma by the United States Food and Drug Administration are cisplatin and pemetrexed. Others used in clinical trials and on an experimental level include: vinorelbine, gemcitabine, carboplatin and doxorubicin.

If one drug stops showing positive results, then the doctor may try something else or use a combination of drugs. A mesothelioma specialist or oncologist will decide what kind of chemotherapy is right for your loved one and can tailor a treatment specific to them.

3. Radiation

Mesothelioma specialists may suggest radiation therapy for pleural mesothelioma patients. This form of mesothelioma occurs in the pleura, which is the cavity between your chest wall and lungs. Radiation is noninvasive and can be used to treat all stages of pleural mesothelioma.

The purpose of radiation is to directly target tumors with high beams of energy and leave behind healthy cells and tissue. This process can be done before, during or after surgery to increase your loved one’s chance of remission. Radiation is also often used to relieve pain and discomfort caused by tumors.

4. Multimodal

When doctors use a combination of treatment methods, it’s called multimodality treatment. Combining chemotherapy, radiation and surgery can be very effective in improving your loved one’s quality of life and overall life expectancy. This type of treatment can be aggressive and may not be suitable for all seniors. Their mesothelioma specialist will be able to determine if they are in good health and can handle multimodal treatment. 

5. Clinical Trials

Your loved one may qualify for a mesothelioma clinical trial, which is a way for seniors to try a mesothelioma treatment that is in the research phase. Examples of emerging treatments in clinical trials include immunotherapy, virotherapy and gene therapy. Each has shown promise in treating mesothelioma effectively.

When candidates are selected for a trial, they are evaluated based on age, gender, current health and mesothelioma type. Since each clinical trial is unique, being rejected from one does not mean you won’t be accepted to another. Your loved one can keep applying to trials until they qualify for one and can participate.

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Nicole Winch Guest Blogger


Tags: Senior Health