Surgery for malignant mesothelioma can be aimed at long-term control of the cancer (aggressive surgery) or relief of symptoms (palliative procedures). Palliative surgery is typically done in cases where the tumor has already spread beyond the mesothelium and is difficult to completely remove, or in cases where the patient is too ill to tolerate a more extensive operation. Curative surgery is offered when the patient is in otherwise good health and the tumor is thought to be localized
and can be completely removed. Unfortunately, microscopic spread of cancer cells into the chest wall and diaphragm are common even when such spread cannot be detected by routine tests. Therefore, given the extent of these operations and their very limited success, the exact role of surgery in treating mesothelioma is often debated.
Depending on the stage of a mesothelioma, surgery may be used to remove the cancer and some of the surrounding tissue. Often, however, an operation is not appropriate and the patient may have only minimally invasive procedures to relieve symptoms. A thoracentesis, where fluid in the chest is removed by placing a needle into the chest cavity, may be done to make a patient more comfortable. Sometimes talc or an antibiotic may be injected into the chest cavity to try to prevent the fluid from returning. These techniques are successful in controlling the fluid, at least temporarily, in as many as 90% of patients. Because pleural fluid can compress the lung and cause shortness of breath, these procedures can help patients breathe more easily, however, they do not cure the cancer. In the case of peritoneal mesothelioma, a needle may be inserted into the abdomen to drain the fluid. Similarly, a needle inserted into the pericardium (sac around the heart) can drain pericardial fluid and help relieve circulatory problems. However, draining this fluid may result in complications. Sometimes the cancer cells spread along the needle path, and a tumor nodule may form under the skin of that area.
Surgery for mesothelioma may be performed for one of two reasons: for palliation (to relieve pain and discomfort caused by the tumor), or to cure. Palliative surgery is typically done in cases where the tumor has already spread beyond the mesothelium and is difficult to completely remove, or in cases where the patient is too ill to tolerate a more extensive operation. Curative surgery is offered when the patient is in otherwise good health and the tumor is thought to be localized and can be completely removed. Unfortunately, microscopic spread of cancer cells into the chest wall and diaphragm are common even when such spread cannot be detected by routine tests. Therefore, given the extent of these operations and their very limited success, the exact role of surgery in treating mesothelioma is often debated.
The tumors of the pleural mesothelium usually are diagnosed in one lung or in one lung being more extensively involved than the other lung. These tumors have usually extended into surrounding tissue and the lung itself. Therefore, removal of an affected lung and nearby tissues is an option for treatment. A procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy involves removal of the pleura, the lung, the diaphragm and the pericardium. The intent of this very aggressive, complicated surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Not all centers will perform this procedure because of its complexity and because it carries a high risk of death within 30 days after surgery. Extrapleural pneumonectomy typically is done only in younger patients who are in good overall health with stage I disease. Patients are evaluated carefully to determine their ability to tolerate the surgery.
Extrapleural pneumonectomy is a far more extensive operation and is most often used in cases of localized mesothelioma. The operation is technically difficult and performed only by surgeons in large specialized medical centers. It involves removing the pleura, diaphragm, pericardium, and the whole lung on the side of the tumor. The patient must be in overall good health with no other serious illnesses in order to tolerate the large operation. This operation is intended to remove all or most of the cancer and some surrounding tissues as well.
Surgery of the peritoneal mesothelium is performed to remove malignant tissues and when necessary the affected abdominal organ. Peritoneal surgery is also mainly used as a palliative procedure. Surgical treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma is often performed either to help relieve symptoms or to attempt to remove the tumor from the wall of the abdomen and other digestive organs. As with pleural mesothelioma, these tumors are often too extensive to remove completely. Similar operations can be performed to remove a mesothelioma from the pericardium (the sac around the heart).
More information on mesothelioma cancer
What is mesothelioma cancer? - Mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium) is a disease in which cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order.
What types of mesothelioma are there? - Mesotheliomas consist of two general types-benign and malignant. Malignant mesothelioma is a cancerous tumor of the pleura.
What is pleural mesothelioma? - Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer of the cells that make up the pleura or lining around the outside of the lungs and inside of the ribs.
What is peritoneal mesothelioma? - Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer affecting the abdominal lining, or peritoneum. Peritoneal mesothelioma is a tumor of this membrane.
What is malignant mesothelioma? - Malignant mesothelioma is a cancer in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the sac lining the chest (the pleura) or abdomen (the peritoneum).
What causes mesothelioma? - Asbestos exposure is the main cause of mesothelioma. The chances of suffering from mesothelioma rise with the intensity and duration of exposure to asbestos.
What're the risk factors for mesothelioma? - The main risk factors for malignant mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Other risk factors include radiation, zeolite, tobacco, and SV40 Virus.
Who's at increased risk for developing mesothelioma? - Family members and others living with asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma.
Asbestos and mesothelioma - Asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer are the three most frequent causes of death and disease among people with heavy asbestos exposure.
Where is asbestos found? - Asbestos has been widely used in many industrial products. Exposure to asbestos can occur in home improvement and construction projects.
When is asbestos dangerous? - Asbestos is hazardous when it is friable. The most common way for asbestos fibers to enter the body is through breathing.
How to reduce asbestos exposure? - Reducing exposure to asbestos by repairing damaged material will involve covering the material or sealing asbestos material.
What's the mesothelioma survival rate? - Mesothelioma is a serious disease. The average age at diagnosis is 50 to 70 years old. The average survival time is about one year.
What're the symptoms of mesothelioma? - Symptoms of mesothelioma include pain in the lower back or at the side of the chest, cough, fever, sweating, fatigue, and weight loss.
How is mesothelioma diagnosed? - Diagnosis of mesothelioma begins with a review of the patient's medical history, including any history of asbestos exposure.
How is mesothelioma staged? - Staging of mesothelioma is based on imaging studies such as x-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans. Malignant mesothelioma moves through four stages.
What's the treatment for mesothelioma? - Treatment for mesothelioma cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Surgery is a common treatment for mesothelioma.
Treatment of malignant mesothelioma by stage - Most patients with stage I mesothelioma have their cancer surgically removed by pleurectomy/decortication or extrapleural pneumonectomy.
Surgery for mesothelioma - Surgery for malignant mesothelioma can be aimed at long-term control of the cancer (aggressive surgery) or relief of symptoms (palliative procedures).
Chemotherapy for mesothelioma - Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. In mesothelioma, chemotherapy may be put directly into the chest.
Radiation therapy for mesothelioma - Radiation is useful because mesothelioma is made up of rapid growing cells and radiation is most effective on cells that divide rapidly.
How to prevent malignant mesothelioma? - The risk of malignant mesothelioma can be reduced by avoiding getting exposed to asbestos.
What's the prognosis of malignant mesothelioma? - The survival time after diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma is about one year. Prognosis for malignant mesothelioma depends on how early it is diagnosed.
What about the mesothelioma lawsuits? - Mesothelioma lawsuits are classified into two groups: personal injury, and wrongful death. Mesothelioma lawsuits usually seek compensation for medical costs.
Who is mesothelioma attorney (lawyer)? - The benefits of hiring a mesothelioma attorney are numerous. A mesothelioma lawyer is able to provide both advice and assistance.