Is There a Mesothelioma Cure?

While there is currently no guaranteed cure for mesothelioma, hope lies in early detection and treatment. A mesothelioma diagnosis can be overwhelming, but early interventions can significantly improve life expectancy and quality of life. Screenings play a crucial role in early diagnosis, potentially detecting mesothelioma before symptoms appear. Catching the disease early can lead to better treatment outcomes, higher survival rates, and improved quality of life, making mesothelioma a more manageable condition.

Mesothelioma typically progresses rapidly, so timely and effective treatment is essential. Understanding and accessing early treatment options can provide a sense of hope and control for patients and their families. Continue reading to learn more about treatment options and potential cures for mesothelioma patients. 

Is Mesothelioma Treatable?

Mesothelioma can be treatable, with options varying based on the mesothelioma stage, overall health, and tumor location. Even though the prognosis is often poor due to late-stage detection, treatments exist at all stages to improve quality of life and manage symptoms. While none of the below treatments provide a definitive cure, they offer significant benefits such as symptom relief, reduced pain, and improved quality of life. Surgery and chemotherapy can relieve pressure on the lungs and chest, radiation therapy reduces tumor sizes, and immunotherapy boosts the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.

Exploring these treatment options can provide hope and a better quality of life for mesothelioma patients. For more detailed information on managing mesothelioma and coping strategies, contact a Lung Cancer Patient Advocate. In the meantime, here are the treatment options categorized by stage:

Stage I and II Mesothelioma

  • Surgery: Surgery is primarily available for stages I and II and some stage III cases. It involves removing tumors to relieve symptoms and, in some instances, may remove all detectable tumors, although it is not a cure.
  • Chemotherapy: Used to shrink tumors, chemotherapy can be applied at all stages. It helps relieve pressure on the lungs and chest and prevents tumor recurrence in remission.
  • Radiation Therapy: In stage I, post-surgery radiation can remove remaining tumor cells, reducing the risk of recurrence. In stage II, it complements surgery and chemotherapy to extend life expectancy.

Stage III Mesothelioma

  • Surgery: Available in select stage III cases, aiming to reduce tumor burden and alleviate symptoms.
  • Chemotherapy: Continues to be an option to manage tumor size and improve comfort.
  • Radiation Therapy: Used palliatively to reduce symptoms and shrink tumors, easing pain and discomfort.
  • Immunotherapy: Combines two medicines to stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells, slowing tumor spread and prolonging survival.

Stage IV Mesothelioma

  • Chemotherapy: Helps manage symptoms and improve quality of life by reducing tumor size.
  • Radiation Therapy: Palliative radiation reduces symptoms and shrinks tumors, alleviating pain and preventing further spread.
  • Immunotherapy: Stimulates the immune system to target mesothelioma cells, slowing tumor growth and extending survival rates.

Promising Mesothelioma Cure

Researchers are actively conducting research to advance treatment options and potentially find a cure. There is a promising outlook for upcoming mesothelioma treatments, including immunotherapy, multimodal therapy, and gene therapy. Some multimodal therapies are considered functional cures if they extend their survival rate by at least five years . One multimodal therapy extending patient survival rates for pleural mesothelioma was a combination of chemotherapies Alimta (pemetrexed) and Cisplatin, extrapleural pneumonectomy, surgery, and radiation. The combination reached a survival rate of 39 months (3.25 years) after diagnosis. This treatment option started as a clinical trial and is predicted to be a topic of interest in mesothelioma treatments in the next decade. 

Clinical trials aid in improving treatment options and detection methods, such as biomarker research. One active clinical trial examining the treatment of stage I-III Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma is being conducted in Baltimore, Maryland, at the University of Maryland/Greenbaum Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins University/Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. The trial is examining how nivolumab, with or without ipilimumab, affects people suffering from stages I-III malignant pleural mesothelioma. The drugs help teach your immune system to fight cancer cells and may stop cancer cells from growing.  The clinical trial’s goal is to see what side effects patients experience with these drugs before surgery.

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Has Anyone Ever Recovered from Mesothelioma?

Yes, some patients have “recovered” from mesothelioma, meaning they lived beyond their life expectancy. People suffering from mesothelioma typically live between 12-21 months with treatment, but early screening along with a person’s general health, location of the tumor, and type, may affect survival rates.  Some long-term “recovered” survivors live several years after their diagnosis with treatment, referred to by some as a mesothelioma cure. Some of these patients may go into remission after undergoing treatment, but unfortunately, mesothelioma commonly reoccurs after remission. Depending on the stage doctors find the recurrence, they may be able to use surgery to remove the tumor.

Early diagnosis makes a huge difference as survival rates and chances of recovery lower in later mesothelioma stages:

  1. Stage I – After diagnosis, 60% of patients typically survive one year, and 41 – 46% of patients live 2 years after diagnosis. 
  2. Stage II – After diagnosis, more than 55% of patients live for about a year, and the average survival rate with treatment is about 19 months.
  3. Stage III – After diagnosis, about 50% of patients live for at least one year. 
  4. Stage IV – After diagnosis, 30% of patients survive around one year.

If There’s no Mesothelioma Cure, What Can I Do?

A mesothelioma diagnosis is undoubtedly challenging, but proactive steps can help you fight back. Connecting with a specialist experienced in mesothelioma is crucial for developing a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Treatment options at a lung cancer hospital, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy, can be considered based on your overall health and cancer stage. Additionally, managing symptoms effectively through pain management strategies and support groups can significantly improve your quality of life. Exploring legal options may also help secure compensation for medical bills and other expenses related to your diagnosis.

We understand that navigating a mesothelioma diagnosis can be overwhelming, and we are here to support you every step of the way. Our services include a treatment center locator to find reputable mesothelioma specialists near you and a dedicated patient advocate team to answer your questions, connect you with resources, and offer emotional support. Don’t hesitate to reach out—contact us today. We’re committed to helping you navigate this challenging time and find the resources to fight against mesothelioma.