Goals of Surgery for Mesothelioma

Surgery for mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure, aims to remove or reduce the tumor, alleviate symptoms, and improve the patient’s quality of life. However, surgery might not be suitable for all mesothelioma patients, and the feasibility of surgery depends on various factors including the cancer’s stage, location, and the patient’s overall health. The goals of surgery for mesothelioma typically include:

  1. Tumor Removal: The primary aim of surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Surgeons may perform different types of surgeries depending on the stage and location of the cancer. Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) removes the lining of the lung and chest wall affected by the cancer, while an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) involves removing the affected lung, part of the diaphragm, and the lining of the heart and chest.
  2. Symptom Relief: Surgery can help alleviate symptoms associated with mesothelioma, such as chest pain, breathing difficulties, and fluid buildup in the chest cavity (pleural effusion). By removing the tumor or reducing its size, surgery can improve the patient’s quality of life and ease discomfort.
  3. Palliative Care: In cases where the cancer has progressed significantly and complete removal isn’t possible, surgery might still be performed to provide palliative care. This means the surgery aims to relieve symptoms and improve the patient’s comfort rather than cure the cancer.
  4. Improvement of Prognosis: For some patients, particularly those diagnosed in the earlier stages of mesothelioma, surgery, when combined with other treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy, might improve the prognosis and potentially extend survival.
  5. Enhancing Effectiveness of Other Treatments: Surgery can sometimes be used in combination with other treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy to enhance their effectiveness. For instance, after surgery, chemotherapy may be more successful in targeting remaining cancer cells.

It’s important to note that mesothelioma is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, making complete surgical removal of the cancer challenging. Additionally, surgery for mesothelioma can be complex and may carry significant risks due to the proximity of the tumor to vital organs. Therefore, the decision to undergo surgery is made on a case-by-case basis after considering various factors and consultation with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals.

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