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Action Mesothelioma Day – Corries short guide to treatment for mesothelioma

Corries Solicitors are supporting the charity Mesothelioma UK for Action Mesothelioma day on Friday 5th July 2019. In a series of article Corries offer help and guidance to those who are diagnosed with this asbestos cancer

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lung due to asbestos exposure. It most commonly affects the chest wall but can affect the abdomen, heart lining or the testicles. It is usually a fatal diagnosis.

In this article we shall explain some of the usual treatments offered and direct you to where more information can can be found.

Timing

The timing of your diagnosis of any cancer is crucial in relation to the treatments which can be tried or offered. Our experience is that very often Mesothelioma is a diagnosis by elimination. By this we mean various other likely causes will have been investigated first.

In some sad cases there may be no practical treatment to offer either because:-

  1. The diagnosis is late in the day and treatment would offer no benefit
  2. The patient has other health issues that would make such treatment even harder and may ruin what quality of life remains and;
  3. For more aggressive cancers such as Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma then the treatment may simply not hold the cancer at bay at all.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is a high-energy radiation treatment used to kill cancer cells in the body.  This is usually used to treat a specific area of the body.

It is tailored to the individual.  The course of treatment can involve several doses which are called fractions.

Radiotherapy is sometimes used in mesothelioma to try and reduce the size of the tumour or to help symptoms or reduce pain.It can also be given to the scar area left by a biopsy or drainage site or operation.

Side Effects

Radiotherapy can cause some side effects including feelings of sickness, tiredness and reduction in appetite.  There is usually some soreness particularly to the skin where it is being applied.

The side-effects are usually short-term particularly once treatment is finished

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells.  It is typically used to try and shrink the cancer and relieve some of the symptoms.  It is also used to improve quality of life.

In broad terms chemotherapy can help mesothelioma victims live longer.  It cannot however cure the disease. Chemotherapy can begin before or after surgery.

The main mesothelioma drugs that are used are:-

  1. Cisplatinum (Platinol),
  2. Carboplatin (Paraplatin),
  3. Gemcitabine (Gemzar),
  4. Pemetrexed (Alimta) and
  5. Vinorelbine (Navelbine).

These are done in cycles. In broad terms there has been modest development in chemotherapy drugs in recent times.  The treatments offered are broadly effective if offered in good time.

Side Effects

Sadly Chemotherapy does cause quite a number of side effects such as:-

  1. Sickness
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Loss of or thinning of hair
  4. Constipation
  5. Diarrhoea
  6. Mouth sores
  7. Feelings of tiredness

Surgery

The use of radical surgery to effectively cut out and then seal the lining of the lung is offered at a limited number of hospitals. The medical criteria to qualify is set high because of the tough nature of the surgery. Mesothelioma UK have a list of the hospitals who will undertake this surgery and the issues that come with it.

Immunotherapy

This is a therapy which is becoming commonplace for many cancers.  However it is only in recent times that trials and tests are showing that it can be used tot treat mesothelioma.  Clinical trials and different that new therapy drugs are being considered.

Immunotherapy is a treatment that helps the immune system to fight diseases including cancer.  It is hoped that immunotherapy may become a front-line treatment for cancers generally and possibly for mesothelioma in the years to come.

Mesothelioma UK keep a list of and abreast of all developments that continually providing programmes of education for nursing and medical professionals.  A link to the PDF of the different trials ongoing at the moment and can be found here. http://www.mesothelioma.uk.com/information-support/information/treatments/

As mush of this treatment is not yet funded by the NHS then private funding is very important.

Of great interest is that solicitors are now becoming more focused on securing the costs of immunotherapy for mesothelioma victims where it can be shown that it will have a positive effect. This means that claims can still be settled and then payments made for however long the immunotherapy is having a beneficial effect. At Corries we are keeping a very close eye on this and have a number of client we are helping through this journey.

Summary

It can be seen that there is a variety of different treatments for mesothelioma.  Sadly the survival rates for mesothelioma are still poor.  It is hoped the developments in immunotherapy may provide more longer term life expectancy and improve mesothelioma victims lives.

For all the more reason Mesothelioma UK need funds to fight this awful disease.and lumping people’s lives. Donations can be made through their webpage which can be linked to here https://www.mesothelioma.uk.com/getting-involved/donate/