Epithelioid mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that primarily affects the mesothelial cells lining the pleura (the membranes around the lungs) but can also occur in other parts of the body. Treatment for epithelioid mesothelioma typically involves a multimodal approach, which means using a combination of different therapies to maximize the chances of controlling the disease and improving a patient’s quality of life. Here are some of the components of multimodal treatment for epithelioid mesothelioma:
- Surgery plays a crucial role in treating epithelioid mesothelioma, especially if the tumor is localized and can be surgically removed.
- The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible, which may involve resecting part or all of the affected lung (pleurectomy/decortication) or even the entire lung (extrapleural pneumonectomy).
- Chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells or to shrink the tumor before surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy).
- Common chemotherapy drugs for mesothelioma include pemetrexed and cisplatin or carboplatin.
- Radiation Therapy:
- Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to target and kill cancer cells. It can be used as an adjuvant treatment following surgery to eradicate any residual cancer cells.
- It may also be used palliatively to relieve symptoms such as pain or difficulty breathing.
- Immunotherapy is a newer treatment approach that aims to enhance the body’s immune system’s ability to recognize and attack cancer cells.
- Immune checkpoint inhibitors like pembrolizumab or nivolumab have shown promise in clinical trials for mesothelioma treatment.
- Targeted Therapy:
- Some targeted therapies may be used in specific cases if the cancer has specific genetic mutations that can be targeted.
- For example, if the tumor has a BRAF mutation, drugs like dabrafenib and trametinib may be considered.
- Clinical Trials:
- Patients with epithelioid mesothelioma may also be eligible for clinical trials, which can offer access to experimental treatments that are not yet widely available.
- Supportive Care:
- Palliative care and supportive therapies are essential components of treatment to manage symptoms, provide pain relief, and improve the patient’s overall quality of life.
The choice of treatment and the order in which these therapies are administered will depend on various factors, including the stage of the disease, the patient’s overall health, and the specific characteristics of the tumor. It’s important for patients to work closely with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including oncologists, surgeons, and palliative care specialists, to create a personalized treatment plan.
Additionally, because epithelioid mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer, seeking care at a specialized cancer center with experience in treating this disease can be beneficial, as these centers often have access to the latest research and treatment options.