Radiation therapy is one of the primary treatment options for pleural mesothelioma, a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs (pleura) and is commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy beams, such as X-rays or protons, to target and destroy cancer cells.
In the context of pleural mesothelioma, radiation therapy can be employed in different ways:
Radiation can be used after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of the cancer returning.
It can be used as a palliative measure to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients in advanced stages of the disease. Radiation therapy helps in shrinking tumors, which can alleviate pain, reduce pressure on organs, and improve breathing.
In some cases, radiation may be used before surgery to shrink tumors, making them easier to remove during the surgical procedure.
Radiation therapy can be delivered externally (external beam radiation therapy) or internally (brachytherapy). External beam radiation therapy is the most common approach for pleural mesothelioma. It involves directing radiation from a machine outside the body toward the affected area.
However, while radiation therapy can be beneficial in managing pleural mesothelioma, it’s essential to consider potential side effects. These may include fatigue, skin changes at the site of treatment, difficulty swallowing (if the treatment is near the esophagus), and lung problems (such as shortness of breath) if the radiation affects healthy lung tissue.
The specific treatment plan for each patient varies depending on various factors such as the stage of the cancer, overall health, and individual circumstances. Often, a combination of treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, known as multimodal therapy, is used to achieve the best possible outcome for patients with pleural mesothelioma.
It’s crucial for patients to discuss the potential benefits, risks, and side effects of radiation therapy with their healthcare team to make informed decisions about their treatment plan.