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Mesothelioma Treatment Options and Clinical Trials

doctor in laboratoryThe news that you or a loved one has malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) can be totally overwhelming. Until you’ve begun to come to terms with the diagnosis, you may have a hard time focusing your thoughts and feelings. For this reason, we at Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley recommend that you talk to family, friends, physicians and legal counsel about what your options are and what comes next.

One way to cope with a mesothelioma diagnosis is to begin exploring the available treatments. Fortunately for anyone with the disease, there are usually a number of different options to weigh and discuss.

Here’s a quick overview, including some of the newest, cutting-edge clinical trials.

Mesothelioma surgeries

Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D): Currently, all procedures for mesothelioma are considered palliative. Most people with the disease will undergo at least one operation to remove tumor tissue and relieve pressure in the chest. The P/D is a fairly conservative surgery, in that it removes only the affected lung covering and part of the chest cavity lining.

Debulking: This is an even more conservative surgery, one that just focuses on removing the main mass of mesothelioma tumors.

Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP): Of the procedures used to treat mesothelioma, EPP is one of the most radical, since it removes the lining of the chest, the sac surrounding the heart, the diaphragm muscle and one lung. It is often used for more advanced cases of the disease.

Fluid removal: To ease pressure and increase comfort, doctors can perform fairly minor procedures like the thoracentesis, pleurodesis or pericardiocentesis, which use small tubes to drain excess fluid from the chest.


Pemetrexed: Many patients with MPM are given this chemotherapeutic agent, often in combination with cisplatin. Whether it’s taken orally, injected or applied directly to a tumor site depends on the disease’s stage.

ACisplatin: Another common chemo treatment.

Pazopanib: Though not yet approved for use on MPM, tests have shown that this chemo agent (which is used for kidney cancer) may double as a mesothelioma treatment.


External beam: As part of a multi-pronged approach to treatment, some patients may receive radiation therapy from an external source, like an X-ray machine.

Brachytherapy: Also known as internal radiation therapy, this treatment involves the injection or implantation of radioactive iodine as a way to kill MPM cells.

Clinical trials

Biologic therapy: This form of treatment, also called immunotherapy, uses your own immune system to fight tumor growth. It is being tested in multiple clinical trials.

MV-NIS: Short for “measles virus vector with the human thyroidal sodium iodide symporter,” this experimental treatment uses specially modified measles viruses to deliver radioactive iodine to MPM tumors in a targeted way.

Related articles:

Mesothelioma and Pain: What to Expect and How to Manage It

The Stages of Mesothelioma: What Can I Expect After My Diagnosis?

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