While there is no cure for mesothelioma, it is possible to go into remission. When you go into remission from mesothelioma, it means that the doctor and testing can find no evidence of mesothelioma in your system.
Mesothelioma Remission Explained
Unfortunately, most people with mesothelioma do not survive very long after being diagnosed. With the latest in treatment for the disease, however, it is possible that you could survive the treatments and come out with no visible evidence that the mesothelioma is in your system. It is not unheard of these days to have people who have survived and are still living in remission from mesothelioma.
In the vast majority of cases of cancer, it is impossible to cure the disease. Instead of being cured, doctors say that you are in remission because there is always the chance that the cancer could come back. The time before the cancer comes back is when you are believed to be in remission. Most mesothelioma survivors do not achieve this but some, fortunately, will survive and go on to lead productive lives.
Treatments Resulting in Remission
If you are able to find a doctor who specializes in mesothelioma, you may be successful in being treated to the point where you enter remission. There are currently many life-saving strategies for treating mesothelioma, including drastic surgeries, radiation therapy, mesothelioma-directed chemotherapy and other innovative treatments you can undergo. People who join a clinical trial are often offered the latest in treatments for mesothelioma that ultimately lead to remission from the disease.
While it can be scary to have the diagnosis of mesothelioma, it is important to remember that not all mesothelioma patients die from the disease and many patients will be successfully treated by a mesothelioma specialist. Your chances of going into remission are higher if you join a clinical trial or are treated by a doctor who is skilled in managing cases of mesothelioma.
What Does Remission Mean?
Remission does not mean that you are cured of having mesothelioma. Instead, it means that you have received successful treatment for the disease so that, when testing is done to see if the cancer is still in your body, there is no evidence that you still have cancer.
However, odds are that you still have a few mesothelioma cells in your body and that, at some point in the distant future, you may have a recurrence of your mesothelioma. After you are treated, the doctor will check to see if you still have evidence of mesothelioma and if nothing is found, you will be told that you are in remission.
When you are in remission, you may not be receiving any treatment for the disease but you still have to have follow up appointments to determine if the mesothelioma has returned. These follow up visits involve testing your body for signs of mesothelioma and, if anything is found, treating this again so you can go back into remission. How often you are seen after being in remission depends on your case and your doctor’s opinion of your chances of relapsing again. This can vary from person to person.
Treatments That Can Lead To Remission
People who survive the diagnosis of mesothelioma usually do so because they have undergone some type of successful treatment for their disease. The treatment usually associated with remission is surgery to remove the tumor; however, most patients also have chemotherapy, radiation therapy or some other novel form of treatment after surgery that removes all traces of mesothelioma cells.
Treatments that lead to remission usually include the following:
As mentioned, your best chances of going into remission are to have surgery to remove the mesothelioma tumor. Surgery removes the tumor, as well as the lymph nodes near the tumor that could lead to the spreading of the disease.
There are 3 surgical treatments for the disease that, when undertaken, do go into remission after that. These include the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) procedure for pleural mesothelioma, the cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC procedure for peritoneal mesothelioma and the pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) procedure for pleural mesothelioma.
Currently, the average person with mesothelioma lives only about 12 months after being diagnosed with the disease, although the latest advances in surgery have improved the survival rates greatly. Nowadays, patients with pleural mesothelioma who have the EPP procedure may live at least 19 months after being diagnosed, and people with peritoneal mesothelioma who have the cytoreductive procedure with HIPEC have the chance of living many years after having the procedure.
There are many types of chemotherapy for mesothelioma that have developed over the years through successful clinical trials. When mesothelioma treatment was first developed, it was believed that chemotherapy wasn’t all that helpful in treating the disease. However, newer therapies have since been developed that are more successful, allowing mesothelioma patients to go into remission after having both surgery and chemotherapy to treat their disease.
This is especially true for patients who have peritoneal mesothelioma. In the cytoreductive procedure with HIPEC, for example, the patient has all visible signs of mesothelioma removed and then they receive heated chemotherapy into the abdomen at the time of surgery. These patients often go into remission after having the treatment.
3. Radiation Treatments
Many patients with mesothelioma have radiation therapy to the area where the surgeon removed the mesothelioma tumor. Radiation alone rarely produces a state of remission but, along with surgical treatment and chemotherapy, radiation is a viable option for people who are aiming to go into remission. You should consult with your doctor to see if you are a candidate for radiation therapy after having mesothelioma surgery and chemotherapy.
4. Novel Treatments
Novel treatments include a variety of treatment methods that are given as part of a clinical trial. These treatments are still in the investigational stage, but show promise in the treatment of diseases such as mesothelioma. Some novel treatments being explored include genetic therapy and immunotherapy directed at mesothelioma cells.
Relapsing With Mesothelioma
It is possible that you will suffer a relapse after having months or even years of remission with mesothelioma. This is why mesothelioma is now being treated as a chronic disease in which the patient is retreated when evidence of mesothelioma is revealed later on in treatment. This is why it is so important to have follow up appointments.
At a follow up appointment, you can be retreated if there is evidence that the mesothelioma has returned.