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Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rates Improving

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is one of the most common of a conversely rare form of cancers caused by exposure to asbestos which is inhaled into the lungs, causing permanent damage. This form of cancer affects the pleura - the thin membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the chest cavity, including the ribs.

With malignant pleural mesothelioma on the rise each year because of the long latency period and the millions of people who were exposed to asbestos through the 1980s, researchers are investing millions on treatment options. On the down side, the survival chances for most patients with this disease are slim. In fact, malignant mesothelioma of the pleura continues to be considered a fatal disease. Doctors and treatment teams still focus largely on comfort and palliative treatment for their patients. New and exciting research, however, suggests that life expectancy for mesothelioma patients can be increased to some degree.

Treatment Options Old and New for Malignant Mesothelioma of the Pleura

Surgery alone doesnt improve survival rates for patients with pleural mesothelioma; although in some cases it significantly reduces pain and breathing difficulties. For the prognosis to improve for span of life, surgery has to be combined with either chemotherapy or radiation to treat this malignant cancer. Therapeutic radiation and chemotherapy adds to both the comfort and life expectancy of patients, although the difference in life span may be only a month or two. However, when a patient has only a few months to live, every month is valuable.

Todays research and clinical trials focus in large part on various combinations of treatments for malignant pleural mesothelioma, trying to determine whether new combinations can improve survival rates. In fact, in the past the response rate to traditional combinations of surgery and chemotherapy had a positive response rate well below one-quarter of the patients treated.

Sequential Chemotherapy Shows Promise

New clinical results, however, have shown that sequential rounds of chemotherapy with different drugs may have more impact. In these trials, patients with malignant mesothelioma of the pleura receive a complete regimen of chemotherapy with one of the newest cancer drugs, and then follow it within weeks or even days with another complete round of treatment with a different cancer drug. In these cases, many patients (up to 60% in some cases) survived for more than a year after diagnosis of end stage mesothelioma asbestos diseases.

To be sure you or your loved one is receiving the best possible chance to survive long-term, be sure to ask your doctor about all options for treatment of your malignant pleural mesothelioma, including sequential chemotherapy.

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