Unfortunately, mesothelioma cancer is a complex disease that is often difficult to treat. It’s usually not found and diagnosed until after the patient has already entered the later stages of the disease. After decades of thorough research and studies, however, scientists and physicians have discovered that in many situations, a combination of the most effective mesothelioma treatments usually have a higher success rate than a standalone treatment.
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The Basics of Multimodal Therapy
Multimodal therapy is a combination of two or more different therapies in order to help malignant mesothelioma have a better chance at a more successful outcome. Surgery, and/or radiation therapy are usually combined, yet recently, gene therapy, immunotherapy, and other forms of nontraditional are also being used by physicians.
As of today, professionals are unable to determine which combinations of treatments are the most effective. In most cases, it will depend upon the patient’s history and the stage of the disease. However, studies have suggested trimodal therapy for mesothelioma in particular. Trimodal therapy involves combining radiation therapy and chemotherapy along with surgery. In fact, the National Comprehensive Cancer Center (NCI) and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital utilize this method frequently.
When physicians begin to implement a multimodal therapy treatment plan, there are three major steps. After determining the best combination of treatments to use, the first step, called induction therapy, is administered to the patient before the primary treatment. Induction therapy typically consists of radiation or chemotherapy.
The second step is the main treatment, in which physicians attempt to remove the main tumors and cancerous cells. The main treatment is usually surgery but can also be chemotherapy for those patients who don’t qualify for surgery.
The third step involves follow-up treatment. After the main treatment is wrapped up, physicians will implement an individualized plan to help patients experience the least amount of pain and side effects. Follow-up treatment also helps reduce the painful symptoms of mesothelioma.
Side Effects of Multimodal Therapy
As with most surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments, patients may experience a series of side effects. Each patient is unique, however, and while some may experience many side effects, others may only experience a few. The most common side effects consist of:
- Hair Loss
- Lethargy and Fatigue
- Weight Loss
- Easily Prone to Infections
- Vomiting and Nausea
The Future of Treatments
As of today, most physicians still rely on combinations of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Yet, as sciences progresses, more and more options are becoming available. For example, cryotherapy is becoming more accepted as an alternative treatment combination.
Cryotherapy consists of killing cancerous cells by freezing them via a needle. This type of treatment typically eliminates radiation therapy so that patients aren’t exposed to the harmful side effects of radiation. Additionally, the National Center for Biotechnology states that cell/drug and neoplasms therapies are currently being researched for more effective treatment options.
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