How Is Mesothelioma Treated?

How Is Mesothelioma Treated?

Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that is divided into different categories depending on what part of the body is affected. It is commonly associated with exposure to asbestos, which can either affect lung tissue to cause lung cancer or mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of this condition, and it affects the tissue around the lungs. Rarer types of mesothelioma affect the abdomen and tissue around the testicles and heart.


Mesothelioma symptoms vary according to where the cancer develops.

Pleural mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Pain under the rib cage
  • Lumps of tissue under the chest
  • Painful coughing

Peritoneal mesothelioma (cancer of the tissue in the abdomen, heart and testicles) symptoms include:

  • Weight loss
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Tissue lumps in the abdomen

Certain other types of rare mesothelioma such as pericardial mesothelioma include chest pains and difficulty breathing, and mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis includes symptoms such as lumps on the testicle.

Mesothelioma treatments focus on reducing side effects and reducing the progression of the cancer. The current treatments for this cancer include:


Surgery is used to decrease the buildup of fluid in the chest that causes breathing difficulty. This procedure involves the insertion of a catheter or tube into the chest, and medication may also be inserted to prevent more fluid from developing.

Surgery is also used to remove damaged tissue around the lungs, ribs and abdominal cavity to relieve symptoms such as pain and swelling.

Removal of as much cancer as possible is also accomplished with the surgical process called debulking. Rebuilding also increases the effectiveness of radiation treatments used to reduce fluid buildup and relieve pain.

Pleural mesothelioma is also treated by surgery when it is used to remove the affected lung and surrounding tissue. This also allows for higher doses of radiation to be used since doctors will then not have to be concerned with lungs being damaged.


Chemotherapy is used to slow cancer growth that is impossible to remove via surgery. It may also be used before surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer returning or to make surgical procedures easier.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation may be used to eliminate any remaining cells after surgery. It also reduces symptoms of advanced cancer when surgery is not possible. Radiation therapy involves using high-energy lights such as protons and x-rays that are focused on specific areas on the body.

More Treatments for Mesothelioma

Clinical trials are researching more mesothelioma treatments such as targeted therapy, biological therapy and gene therapy. Each procedure is not guaranteed, and careful consideration should be taken before enlisting the use of these treatments. Alternative treatments that focus on relieving breathing difficulty includes acupuncture, breath training, relaxation exercises and sitting near a fan.