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How is pleural mesothelioma treated?

Doctors have developed a unique multidisciplinary approach that combines chemotherapy, surgery, and focused radiation therapy to treat mesothelioma while sparing as much nearby healthy tissue as possible. Patients with pleural disease that cannot be surgically removed may benefit from this approach, starting with the insertion of two ports in front of and in back of the lungs under the guidance of a special scope. During this surgical procedure, patients also receive high-temperature chemotherapy to the pleura.

Next, over a period of eight to nine weeks, patients receive alternating weekly treatments of the anticancer drugs gamma interferon delivered directly into the pleura through the ports, as well as intravenous chemotherapy. Treatment can be given on an outpatient basis, enabling patients to return to the comfort of their homes the same day.

After they have completed chemotherapy, patients receive a single dose of a radioactive substance that bathes the pleural surfaces with high doses of radiation. (Patients with pleural mesothelioma cannot receive externally applied radiation therapy because it subjects the heart and lungs to potential radiation damage.)

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