Mesothelioma is different from other cancers in that it typically does not grow as one large tumor. Instead, it spreads itself along nearby blood vessels and nerves. This can make treatment difficult, and for some, a cure is simply not possible.
However, a new study has shown that, while chemotherapy will not cure mesothelioma, patients who underwent chemotherapy lived longer.
In the study, the median survival for mesothelioma patients who received chemotherapy was 12 months, compared to 4 months for mesothelioma patients who received no chemotherapy.
For patients who underwent chemotherapy and surgery, median survival jumped to 16 months.
Mesothelioma does not begin to manifest when a person is first exposed to asbestos. In fact, mesothelioma usually does not develop until 35 or 40 years after initial asbestos exposure. Most mesothelioma patients are not diagnosed until they are in their sixties or seventies.
Signs and symptoms of pleural (lung tissue) mesothelioma include:
- Chest pain under the rib cage
- Painful coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Unusual lumps under the skin of the chest
- Unexplained weight loss
How exactly does chemotherapy help patients suffering from mesothelioma? The best outcome, of course, is when chemotherapy kills mesothelioma cells and prevents mesothelioma from spreading. However, chemotherapy can also help in other ways. It can shrink tumors, which makes surgery easier and may even relieve some of the pain caused by tumors.
Mesothelioma is deadly, but chemotherapy can offer a glimmer of hope.