Pleural Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused by inhaling asbestos fibres. These fibres get lodged into the protective lining of the lungs, causing mutations in the surrounding cells. This type of mesothelioma is the most common. Pleural Mesothelioma affects 90% of our clients. It is the most common type of mesothelioma and is normally from breathing in asbestos fibres. It is possible to have only one exposure to asbestos for pleural mesothelioma. It can be caused by a small amount of exposure, but normally is from a great deal of exposure. In some cases, a husband working with asbestos everyday for his entire career is never diagnosed with mesothelioma, and his wife who laundered his work clothing is diagnosed.
The disease of mesothelioma only has one known exposure: asbestos.
The prognosis for pleural mesothelioma depends on the stage of the disease and the patients overall health. Most patients live over 1 year after being diagnosed, but there are people living for years with the disease thanks to different types of treatment.
The most common treatment for pleural mesothelioma is chemotherapy and/or radiation. These therapies help slow down the speed of the aggressive mesothelioma cells. Surgical options offer the best chances for a longer survival, but in order to have surgery the patient must be in good health.
Stages of Pleural Mesothelioma
Stage 1: The cancer is localized to the lining of the lung
Stage 2: The cancer has spread to the lung, part of the diaphragm and nearby lymph nodes.
Stage 3: The cancer has spread throughout one side of the chest, into the chest wall, esophagus and more lymph nodes.
Stage 4: The cancer has spread into both side of the chest, affecting other organs, the blood and bone cells.
Immunotherapy is a relatively new type of treatment. There has been trials going on for several years to test how well it works for mesothelioma victims. Immunotherapy is still considered an experimental treatment for mesothelioma, and is not part of Health Canada’s treatment plan. Medical research is getting closer to making it a common reality.
There are drugs which have helped some people live for years with mesothelioma. Immunotherapy is available to mesothelioma patients through clinical trials. It has FDA approval for cancer. It can enhance the immune system response to mesothelioma, but it has not been able to cure the cancer. Research that integrates immunotherapy as part of a multimodal treatment plant to better manage mesothelioma.
Immunotherapy will likely become an effective treatment option for mesothelioma in the future, especially in combination with other cancer therapies. Unfortunately we have heard from several of our clients that immunotherapy has not helped them. It may be helpful in limited circumstances, but the fact remains it is very expensive and may or may not make life better for the patient. In some cases we may want to live longer, but if you are in pain living an extra six months is not always best for you.
If your oncologist has not spoken to you about immunotherpay, be sure to discuss it, as it may be an option for you.