Palliative care for mesothelioma


Not all mesothelioma patients qualify for curative treatment. In some case patients’ cancer has spread too far to be responsive to treatment, or to be removed through surgery. In these cases a patient’s medical team may offer treatment with the goal of reducing pain and improving the patient’s quality of life in their remaining months or years. Even if a patient’s condition is terminal, palliative treatment may extend their life by slowing the course of the disease.


Fluid buildup is a common problem in pleural and peritoneal (abdominal) mesothelioma. In the lung region, it can cause chest tightness and difficulty breathing, while in the abdomen, it can cause digestion problems. In both cases it is painful. A variety of treatments exist to remove fluid buildup. In many cases doctors use a long, thin needle to drain the fluid. In pleurodesis, the space between inner and outer pleura is sealed with adhesive; since that is where the fluid accumulates, sealing the area means it cannot return. A shunt can also be inserted allowing the patient to pump out fluid at home.


Palliative care for mesothelioma


Radiation and chemotherapy are mainstays of both curative and palliative care. Both aim to reduce the size of tumors by killing cancer cells, though they do so by different means. Radiation can be aimed directly at a tumor, while chemotherapy drugs target all fast-growing cells in the body, including cancer. Although both methods have shown mixed results for mesothelioma, they are in wide use to slow tumor growth.


Controlling pain is an essential part of cancer treatment. The most effective painkillers are strong opioids like codeine; weak opiates may also play a role in treatment, along with other drugs like ketamine and medical marijuana. Marijuana may also reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy.


Palliative care for mesothelioma


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