Archive for May, 2011

Pleurectomy Decortication Surgery

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Mesothelioma was once a rare form of cancer but has become more commonplace today. Some instances of mesothelioma may result from exposure to asbestos fibers that becoming lodged in the thin membrane that lines and encases the lungs. There are various forms of treatment for mesothelioma, and the use of certain types of surgery along with chemotherapy and radiation can treat the symptoms with varying degrees of success.  Pleurectomy-Decortication (PD) is one such surgery, usually done on patients in the earliest stages of mesothelioma, when tissue infiltration is still relatively contained within a smaller surface area.

Pleurectomy-Decortication (PD) is a class of mesothelioma surgery in which the surgeon removes a tumor and/or the lining of the lungs. PD is not a cure, but it may help improve the patient’s quality of life and ease pain resulting from the cancer. The medical community does generally consider PD a radical surgery due to the extensive amount of tissue resection and the highly invasive techniques necessary to complete the operation. However, the surgery may successfully extend survival time in mesothelioma patients.

In PD, the surgeon makes an incision in the chest to reach the pleural cavity, providing access to the lungs and then performs the decortications of the lung and full resection of the visceral pleura. This involves removal of the surface layer of the visceral pleura and some other tissue to try to eradicate all malignant tissue. Following the decortication, the surgeon will likely do whatever reconstructive processes are necessary to ensure proper lung function. During the procedure the doctor also may remove adjacent lymph nodes to be sent to a pathologist for analysis, after which the doctors will decide what follow-up treatments might be helpful.

Once the surgery is performed, the patient will likely need to spend time in the intensive care unit before starting rehabilitation. It is important for the patient to realize this is major surgery with significant post-operative healing, so it will take time to recover.

Pleurectomy-Decortication surgery and other mesothelioma treatments can sometimes be uncomfortable and quite extensive. Yet, it may help patients to remember that, with these surgical options and other selected treatments, medical professionals seek to do everything possible to make a positive impact on the patient’s overall health and quality of life.

 

Palliative Surgery: Thoracentesis

Friday, May 20th, 2011

In medicine, doctors know that the more the patient learns about a surgical process, the less fear the patient has going into the procedure. This may also lead to faster and easier patient recovery. While no known cure for mesothelioma cancer exists, surgery may help alleviate some of the pain and complications resulting from this vicious disease. When the patient understands these surgeries, he or she may feel less fear and more in control.

Last week, we gave a summary of mesothelioma surgeries that a person diagnosed with mesothelioma might undergo. We explained that some mesothelioma patients experience difficulty breathing due to an excess build-up of fluid around the lungs or abdominal area. This can squeeze the lungs, making breathing uncomfortable, even painful. So today, we want to talk about possible, palliative solutions.

Palliative surgeries may help remove and alleviate some of the pain associated with mesothelioma cancer. Thoracentesis is one type of palliative surgery that drains excess fluid from the space between the lung and the pleura (lung lining). A tube is inserted into the chest and used to remove the fluid. The most common type of palliative surgery is Pleurodesis, which seeks to eliminate fluid from the pleural space so fluid cannot continue to collect. First, doctors must remove all the fluid in the pleural cavity. In the Pleurodesis procedure, doctors cause an inflammation in the area that serves to seal the pleural space. Inflammation can be achieved chemically with talc, bleomycin, tetracycline or povidone iodine. It can also be achieved surgically by irritating the pleura with a rough pad to cause the inflammation. In both types—chemically or surgically—the layers are then brought together so they can fuse and future fluid retention can be eliminated.

After recovery, the patient could experience a marked difference in his or her ability to breathe and a lessening of the cough often associated with mesothelioma. While these palliative surgeries are not cures for mesothelioma, they might help the patient feel more comfortable and lead a more productive life.

 

Pleurodesis and Pleurectomy

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

In the last few weeks, we’ve discussed some basic information on what cancer is and various treatment options specific to mesothelioma cancer patients. In addition to radiation and chemotherapy, surgery is a potential treatment option for this aggressive form of cancer that could possibly result from exposure to asbestos materials. Surgical treatment for mesothelioma may involve different methods or procedures depending on the specifics of the diagnosis.

While there is no known cure for mesothelioma cancer, sometimes surgery may help alleviate some of the pain and complications resulting from this vicious disease. For example, certain patients experience difficulty breathing due to excess build up of fluid around the lungs or abdominal area. Excess fluid build-up can squeeze the lungs, making breathing uncomfortable and even painful.

Palliative type surgeries aim to relieve mesothelioma symptoms by draining the excess fluid. Pleurodesis is another type of surgery in which talc, a mineral silicate, is inserted into the small lining that cushions the lungs in order to help mitigate fluid collection over the long-term.

A pleurectomy is a class of mesothelioma surgery where the surgeon removes a tumor and/or the lining of the lungs. This kind of surgery sometimes accompanies radiation or chemotherapy to help control remaining cancerous tissues. Pleurectomy is not a cure; however, it may help improve the patient’s quality of life and easing pain. Another type of surgery is pneumonectomy, which involves removing the lung, the lining around it and some of the support tissues. This surgery typically occurs with the most drastic cancer cases in an attempt to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with mesothelioma.

Surgery and other treatments for mesothelioma can sometimes be uncomfortable and quite extensive. With these surgical options and other selected treatments, medical professionals seek to do everything possible to make a positive impact on the patient’s overall health and quality of life.

 

Alimta and Ionizing Radiation Therapy

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Chemotherapy and radiation are common treatments for certain types of cancer today. For sufferers of mesothelioma, these treatments are just two of the methods that may help prolong the life of the patient. When cancers such as mesothelioma are diagnosed, chemotherapy or radiation — or combinations of both — are two potential options for treatment of this deadly cancer. But, what are chemo and radiation therapies, and how do they work? Are they effective? And what are their side effects, if any?

Chemotherapy, in essence, is the use of chemical drugs to target and kill cancer cells, decrease the size of tumors or reduce the spread of malignant cells to other parts of the human body. However, with over 100 different types of chemicals in use and diverse procedures for their use, chemotherapy is often a complex subject to understand. One such chemotherapy drug, Alimta, may be a feasible treatment, as the FDA approved it for specific treatment of mesothelioma. Certain combinations of chemotherapy drugs have shown positive results in some mesothelioma patients, potentially prolonging survival.

Radiation therapy is another treatment method for mesothelioma. Radiation therapy — sometimes called radiotherapy — uses low doses of ionizing radiation as a mesothelioma treatment option to help target and control cancer cells or reduce their spread. In some cases, radiation therapy may also be combined with chemotherapy, and this method might be used to lessen painful symptoms resulting from mesothelioma cancer.

However, both radiation and chemotherapy can possibly result in some unpleasant side effects such as fatigue, pain and nausea. These side effects could differ depending on the patient and the location, type and duration of treatments. Certain diets and medications prescribed by a doctor may aid in minimizing selected side effects, and there are cases where patients do not experience any side effects at all. While these mesothelioma treatment options may prove effective in possibly prolonging life, there remains no known cure for mesothelioma.