Asbestos Mesothelioma Video


Malignant Mesothelioma - Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is sometimes used as the main treatment of mesothelioma in some patients, especially those whose general health is too poor to undergo surgery. Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells.

External beam radiation therapy uses radiation delivered from outside the body that is focused on the cancer. This type of radiation therapy is the preferred type to treat mesothelioma. These treatments are much like getting a diagnostic x-ray except for a longer time. A typical course of treatment takes anywhere from 3 to 5 weeks of daily treatments (5 days a week). In general, though, mesothelioma is not helped much by radiotherapy because it is relatively resistant to the effects of radiotherapy. Also, the need to treat a large part of the lung leads to problems with lung damage.

Brachytherapy places radioactive material directly into the chest or the abdomen at the site of the mesothelioma. It is seldom used for this cancer.

Adjuvant radiation therapy can be used in addition to surgery to kill small deposits of cancer that cannot be seen and removed during surgery.

Palliative radiation therapy can also be used to ease symptoms of mesothelioma such as shortness of breath, pain, bleeding, and difficulty swallowing.

Side effects of radiation therapy may include fatigue and mild skin changes that resemble sunburn. Often these side effects are temporary. Radiation may also make the side effects of chemotherapy worse. Chest radiation therapy may cause lung damage and lead to difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. Abdominal radiation therapy may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you are having any of these side effects of radiation therapy, talk with your doctor since there are ways to help control these symptoms.

If fluid collects in the pleural space, radioactive drugs can be put into the space after the fluids are removed. Sometimes they are successful in preventing the fluid from coming back.

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