Surgery is one of the primary forms of treatment associated with mesothelioma. However, it's not always the best approach for every patient. A lot of factors affect whether a patient may undergo surgery, such as the stage of the cancer and his or her overall health. Still, when it is the best method, it can greatly reduce symptoms and even eliminate the cancer.
What Kind Of Surgery Is Right For You?
Generally, surgery is considered safe for patients when mesothelioma is found in its earlier stages. At that point, tumors are usually localized and easy to remove, and patients can better handle an operation. These procedures are called curative surgeries. In later stages, the tumors may be too large or irregular to effectively remove, and the cancer may have spread too much. In those cases, a surgeon may perform related operations that don't remove the cancer but make the patient more comfortable. These are called palliative surgeries.
Another form of surgery is diagnostic. It is performed when a doctor suspects a patient has mesothelioma but cannot diagnose him or her based on tests alone. It involves making incisions over the area where cancer is suspected and looks for signs of cancer. If possible, the surgeon will remove the tumors at that point.
One form of curative surgery is a pleurectomy, which completely removes the lining of the lungs through a small incision with the aid of a needle. This surgery is most common for pleural mesothelioma patients with excessive fluid in the lungs and is often followed with chemotherapy and radiation. In some cases, a surgeon may remove the entire lung in a procedure called a pneumonectomy. For this surgery, a large incision is made from which the organ is taken out, and the recovery time may be several weeks. Severe cases require an extrapleural pneumonectomy, which calls for the surrounding tissues and membrane to be excised as well as the lung. A peritonectomy is essentially the same surgery but for peritoneal mesothelioma patients. In these situations, the abdomen and surrounding membrane are removed.
Palliative surgeries generally don't remove the cancer but lessen the fluid buildup in the lungs or abdomen, reducing symptoms such as shortness of breath and excessive pain. This surgery, called a thoracentesis, is designed to make patients with pleural mesothelioma more comfortable. (A similar procedure for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma is called a parecentesis and removes fluid from the abdomen.) Alternatively, the patient may undergo a pleurodesis. In this surgery, talc is injected into the chest to prevent fluid buildup.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are curious about your surgical options, please fill out the form on this page. We can send you more helpful information about surgeries as well as other treatment methods and appropriate doctors. We know you need all the information you can get so that you can best take care of your health.