When diagnosis of mesothelioma is confirmed a patient may at first be confused when suddenly confronted with different types of similar sounding types of treatments. Current asbestosis treatments are unable to completely cure the condition but can help to slow down the spread of the disease.

Consequently, many more asbestos victim sufferers are able to live for longer and see their families secure mesothlioma compensation within the three year time limit available to make a claim.

Medical advances continue to be made and it is now estimated that the earlier a diagnosis can be made the more likely mesothelioma sufferers could expect to live for around two years or more. It is also suggested that as many as 20 per cent of sufferers could now survive for five years, compared to only 5 per cent for patients with advanced mesothelioma who might only expect to live for a further 4 to 12 months.

The two key treatments for cancer are chemotherapy and radiation therapy ( also known as radiotherapy). While some cancers can be treated with chemotherapy alone, others will need radiotherapy and in some cases, surgery.

It is not uncommon for cancer sufferers to be confused by radiation therapy and chemotherapy and think they are the same treatment or they work in the same ways. They are two different types of treatments used in different ways, and which also work in different ways to help fight cancers.

Chemotherapy:

  • The goal of chemotherapy is to stop or slow down the cancer cells from reproducing and dividing.
  • The treatment of mesothelioma uses chemical substances.

Cancer cells divide at a faster rate than normal cells, accelerating the spread of the disease. Although chemotherapy is not a cure it works to slow the spread of cancer cells throughout the body and is used to treat both non-cancerous ( benign) as well as cancerous ( malignant) tumours.

Chemotherapy is used for various purposes in treating malignant mesothelioma:

• Slowing the growth and spread of cancer cells throughout the body.
• Shrinking tumours prior to surgical treatment.
• Killing microscopic mesothelioma cells, which remain following surgery.
• Treating the symptoms, using chemical substances.

Chemotherapy is given in a series of sessions, and a series of sessions is called a cycle. Traditional platinum-based chemotherapy drugs are most often used in conjunction with various new treatments or chemotherapy drugs and have shown to be the most effective way in treating a variety of cell tumours.

However, there are side effects, the most common of which are nausea, a metal taste in the mouth, fatigue, and chemo-related anaemia. In some cases there can also be very severe side effects affecting the heart, liver, kidneys and the ears.

Radiation Therapy:

  • The goal of radiation therapy is to kill malignant mesothelioma cells.
  • The treatment of mesothelioma uses high-energy radiation, such as x-rays.

Radiation therapy is less severe than chemotherapy and uses x-rays to destroy the cancer cells by being applied directly to the localised area of the tumour. It is a more precise treatment because it’s based on type, size, location and stage of the cancer. Because it is not a cure, it is used in combination with surgical procedures and for the purpose of treating the symptoms.

The side effects for radiotherapy includes tiredness, loss of appetite, change in blood and sensitive skin and may not appear for several years following therapy treatment.