Mesothelioma Treatment Options
Much like other cancers, mesothelioma can be treated using standard treatment options recommended by an oncologist. The use of specific treatments or combinations depends significantly on several variables the cancer care team determines. Primary methods of treatment used for cancers can include:
This form of therapy uses anticancer medications to slow or stop the growth of rapidly dividing cells. Chemotherapy may be used for more advanced stages where surgery isn’t an option. In earlier stages of the disease, chemotherapy can be used in conjunction with surgery and radiation.
Depending on the cancer type and stage, an oncologist may suggest surgery as a treatment method. Surgery helps diagnose, stage, and treat cancer and related symptoms and can also be combined with other therapies.
Radiation involves utilizing targeted energy to attack cancer cells. After surgery, radiation therapy is sometimes used to eliminate remaining cancer cells.
Anti-angiogenesis drugs are a form of targeted therapy. This treatment option is designed to bypass healthy cells and target specific cancer cells for treatment. For the most part, targeted treatments stop the development of cancer by stopping the cancerous cells from growing and dividing, destroying them directly, or by enhancing additional therapies such as chemotherapy.
Also a form of targeted therapy, immunotherapy stimulates the immune system to fight off tumors better. Immunotherapy gets its own section due to its rising success in treating mesothelioma in patients. As researchers develop combinations of immunotherapy, further, it continues to rise in preference as a treatment option.
These forms of primary treatment can sometimes be used alone or with other medications and therapies. Your doctor will assign you a specific treatment plan based on your unique situation that will map out how to move forward.
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What Are Anti-Angiogenesis Drugs?
Angiogenesis takes place when new blood vessels are formed using a protein called vascular endothelial growth factors, or VEGF. Although it’s a normal part of the healing and growth process, angiogenesis accelerates the development of several diseases, including cancer.
Mesothelioma cancer cells thrive on oxygen to grow and metastasize (spread) throughout the body and will send chemicals to blood vessels that speed up the delivery of blood and oxygen to the tumor. Anti-angiogenesis drugs, also called angiogenesis inhibitors, are targeted treatments that block this process and “starve” the cancer cells, massively slowing down and possibly stopping cancer development.
Types of Anti-Angiogenesis Medications for Mesothelioma
There are three types of mesothelioma based on where they are located in the body. There’s the kind that affects the pleura (lung), the pericardium (heart), and the peritoneum (abdomen). Anti-angiogenesis medications that can potentially treat these types of cancer include:
This angiogenesis inhibitor that targets tumor cells in the lungs, kidney, and colon. It’s sometimes used with chemotherapy.
Currently in its testing phase, Cediranib is used to help block the growth and spread of tumors in a variety of cancers.
This inhibitor can help block the growth of advanced stomach cancers.
An anti-angiogenesis drug that can be used to target a variety of cancers, including malignant mesothelioma.
Who Can Benefit From Anti-Angiogenesis Drugs?
Almost anyone can benefit from angiogenesis inhibitors. Whether an oncologist decides whether this treatment method will work for a patient depends on several factors regarding the patient. If a doctor decides that other primary treatments or mesothelioma medications will be the most effective, then angiogenesis inhibitors won’t be used. The use of anti-angiogenesis medications alone or in combination with other treatments depends significantly on the patient’s overall health, stage of mesothelioma, and other factors that are determined by the cancer care team.
Side-Effects of Anti-Angiogenesis Medications
These side-effects are common but do not affect every person undergoing treatment. Each person’s situation is unique and will have different side-effects. Some side-effects of anti-angiogenesis drugs include:
- High blood pressure
- Issues with wounds healing
- Itchy, dry skin or rash
- Low blood count
Less common, but more serious side-effects include:
- Blood clots
- Excessive bleeding
- Heart attacks
- Heart failure
If any of these side-effects occur or seem as if they may occur, seek help from your doctor immediately. They’ll have information on how to proceed and can possibly treat the symptoms with additional medication or treatment.
If anti-angiogenesis medications seem like the right option for you, have a chat with your cancer-care specialist. They will assess your unique case and determine which treatment methods are best for you.
Mesothelioma is a devastating cancer that a lot of people don’t know much about.