The care you need to manage mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that can affect the lungs, chest cavity and abdomen. While symptoms can develop in the disease’s early stages, people often ignore them until they worsen. It’s important to see a doctor right away if you experience mesothelioma’s warning signs, to treat it before it progresses.
While there is no cure for mesothelioma, our team has the experience to diagnose and manage it — even when disease has advanced. We’ll work to reduce your pain and make you feel as comfortable as possible.
Our support for thoracic cancers such as mesothelioma also includes a chance to connect with other people receiving care.
Am I at risk for mesothelioma?
The main risk factor for mesothelioma is long-term exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a fire-resistant material once commonly found in insulation, ceiling and roofing vinyl, cement, and automotive brake materials. Most people develop mesothelioma about 30 years after coming into contact with asbestos.
Other mesothelioma risk factors include gender and age. Men are at higher risk of developing mesothelioma, and the average age of a mesothelioma patient is 60.
What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma develops slowly. Symptoms may take 20 to 50 years to appear and can mimic those of other conditions. Mesothelioma symptoms may include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss
How is mesothelioma diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects mesothelioma, you may have one or more of the following diagnostic tests:
- Imaging tests: These tests take pictures of the inside of the body. They may include a chest X-ray and a CT scan.
- Biopsy: If something looks suspicious, a doctor may need to take a tissue sample from your lung for further testing. We often use minimally invasive methods for sampling tissue that are quick and painless, including needle biopsy and bronchoscopy.
What are my treatment options for mesothelioma?
There is no cure for mesothelioma, though the disease is more manageable when caught early. Care is more effective at larger centers such as ours, which see more cases of this rare disease.
Even when mesothelioma has advanced, we can provide options to ease your pain, improve breathing and make you more comfortable. We work to not only prolong life expectancy but also help you live the fullest life possible with relief from symptoms. If initial treatments don’t work, we can recommend additional options.
Your treatment options may include one approach or a combination of:
- Surgery: When possible, doctors try to remove mesothelioma with surgery. Even if other doctors have diagnosed you with inoperable mesothelioma, our experienced team may determine that it’s possible.
- Chemotherapy: Certain drugs can destroy cancer cells or stop them from multiplying. A special approach called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy, or HIPEC, places heated chemotherapy into your chest cavity immediately after surgery.
- Targeted therapy: A newer type of drug targets the blood vessel growth that tumors need to grow. Doctors usually pair it with chemotherapy.
- Radiation therapy: External radiation therapy destroys cancer cells or stops their growth.
- Palliative care: Our team offers therapeutic options to relieve symptoms and improve breathing
Clinical trials for mesothelioma
Since mesothelioma is rare, it’s challenging for researchers to put together clinical trials for the disease. But we’re constantly looking for promising new approaches. Our program for thoracic cancer clinical trials is one of the nation’s most active.
Clinical trials test safety and effectiveness, giving you a chance to try new therapies before they gain approval. Our current or recent clinical trials include:
- Exploring new chemotherapy drugs
- Combining chemotherapy with immunotherapy, a new class of medications that harnesses your immune system
- Boosting the effectiveness of immunotherapy with new drugs
- Using immunotherapy with another new category of drugs designed to interfere with cancer cells’ metabolism, or energy production
Learn more about how cancer clinical trials work.
Get Information on Clinical Trials
HIPEC: Treating metastatic cancers
Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is heated chemotherapy that is administered after tumor-removing surgery to treat cancers that spread to the lining of the abdomen.
Request Information on Clinical Trials
If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma we may have a clinical trial for you.