How Surgery Can Help Treat Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, and other organs. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral that was widely used in the past for its insulation and fireproofing properties. Despite the efforts to ban asbestos in most countries, mesothelioma continues to be a serious health problem around the world.
One of the main treatments for mesothelioma is surgery. While surgery alone may not cure mesothelioma, it can help to reduce the size of the tumors, relieve symptoms, and improve the quality of life for patients. In this article, we'll take a closer look at how surgery can help to treat mesothelioma.
Types of Surgery
There are several types of surgery that can be used to treat mesothelioma, depending on the location and stage of the cancer, as well as the overall health of the patient. Some of the most common types of surgery for mesothelioma include:
1. Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D): This procedure involves the removal of the pleura, the membrane that lines the lungs and chest cavity. The goal is to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible, while preserving the lung function. This surgery is usually done for early-stage pleural mesothelioma.
2. Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP): This surgery involves the removal of the affected lung, the pleura, and other surrounding tissues, such as the diaphragm and the pericardium. The goal is to remove all visible tumors and prevent them from spreading to other parts of the body. This surgery is usually done for more advanced cases of pleural mesothelioma.
3. Peritoneal mesothelioma surgery: This type of surgery is done for mesothelioma that affects the lining of the abdomen. The goal is to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible, while preserving the function of the digestive and urinary systems. Depending on the extent of the cancer, this surgery may involve removing a portion of the bowel, the spleen, or the pancreas.
4. CyberKnife: This procedure involves using focused radiation to destroy cancerous tissue. Unlike traditional radiation therapy, CyberKnife delivers high doses of radiation to a very small area, while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. This treatment is often used for mesothelioma that cannot be removed surgically.
Benefits of Surgery for Mesothelioma
Surgery can offer several benefits for mesothelioma patients, including:
1. Reducing tumor size: Surgery can help to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible, which can reduce the size of the tumors and relieve pressure on the surrounding organs and tissues.
2. Relieving symptoms: Surgery can help to relieve symptoms such as pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. This can improve the quality of life for patients and make them more comfortable.
3. Improving survival: While surgery alone may not cure mesothelioma, it can help to extend the lifespan of patients and improve their overall prognosis. Depending on the stage and location of the cancer, surgery may be combined with other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
4. Enhancing quality of life: Surgery can help to improve the overall quality of life for mesothelioma patients by reducing symptoms, improving lung function, and allowing them to be more active and independent.
Risks and Side Effects of Surgery
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and side effects associated with mesothelioma surgery. Some of the most common risks and side effects include:
1. Infection: Surgery can increase the risk of infection, especially in patients with weakened immune systems. To minimize this risk, patients may be given antibiotics before and after the procedure.
2. Bleeding: Surgery can cause bleeding, which may require blood transfusions or additional surgery to stop.
3. Blood Clots: Surgery can increase the risk of blood clots, which can lead to serious complications such as pulmonary embolism or stroke.
4. Nausea and Vomiting: General anesthesia can cause nausea and vomiting, which can be controlled with medication.
5. Pain: Surgery can cause pain, which can be managed with pain medication.
6. Breathing Problems: Surgery can affect lung function, especially in patients who already have lung problems. Depending on the extent of the surgery, patients may need oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation.
Surgery can be an effective treatment option for mesothelioma, especially if the cancer is caught in its early stages. While surgery alone may not cure mesothelioma, it can help to reduce the size of the tumors, relieve symptoms, and improve the quality of life for patients. However, surgery is not without risks and side effects, so it's important for patients to discuss all their treatment options with their healthcare team and weigh the benefits and risks carefully before deciding on a course of action.