George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Mesothelioma facts
- What is mesothelioma?
- What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
- What causes mesothelioma?
- How much asbestos exposure does it take to get mesothelioma?
- How long does it take after asbestos exposure for mesothelioma to show up?
- How is mesothelioma diagnosed?
- What is the prognosis for mesothelioma?
- What is the treatment for mesothelioma?
- Is there any promising research or are there promising drugs for mesothelioma?
- What other kinds of information is available for people with mesothelioma?
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
What is the treatment for mesothelioma?
There are three traditional kinds of treatment for patients with malignant mesothelioma. Often two or more of these are combined in the course of treatment:
- surgery (taking out the cancer),
- radiation therapy (using high-dose X-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells), and
- chemotherapy (using drugs to fight the cancer).
Surgery: There are several types of surgery used in treating mesothelioma.
- A pleurectomy is the removal of part of the chest or abdomen lining and some of the tissue around it.
- Depending on how far the cancer has spread, a lung also may be removed in an operation called a pneumonectomy.
- In an extrapleural pneumonectomy, the lung is removed along with the lining and diaphragm (the muscle that helps you breathe) on the affected side. In this surgery, the lining around the heart is also removed.
- Sometimes a pleurectomy/decortication is performed. In this surgery, the lining of the lung is removed along with as much of the tumor as possible.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external radiation therapy) or from putting materials that produce radiation (radioisotopes) through thin plastic tubes in the area where the cancer cells are found (internal radiation therapy).
If fluid has collected in the chest or abdomen, your doctor may drain the fluid out of your body by putting in a needle into the chest or abdomen and using gentle suction to remove the fluid. If fluid is removed from the chest, this is called thoracentesis. If fluid is removed from the abdomen, this is called paracentesis. Your doctor may also put drugs through a tube into the chest to prevent more fluid from accumulating.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be administered by pill, or it may be put into the body by a needle in the vein or muscle.
Chemotherapeutic agents can be administered either systemically (through the bloodstream) or intrapleurally (in the pleural cavity). When it is administered intrapleurally, the treatment is localized at the site of the tumor. These drugs are generally very toxic and you should discuss their use very carefully with your physician.
Get the latest treatment options.