Mesothelioma Remission

Quick Summary

When your doctor is discussing your mesothelioma prognosis with you, you may hear them refer to remission as being the goal of your treatment. The likelihood of generating remission for mesothelioma patients will depend on your age, the stage of your cancer, and additional factors. However, remission is the ideal outcome that all doctors want for their patients.

So, what is remission? When you hear that this is the optimal goal of your cancer treatment, you may confuse it with being cured. However, since mesothelioma presents the possibility of coming back even after it has seemingly disappeared, doctors are not yet willing to refer to patients as being cured. After a patient has achieved remission, they’ll need to continue undergoing tests and attending follow-up appointments in order to ensure the mesothelioma hasn’t returned—and be prescribed treatment if it has. Because of this, mesothelioma isn’t considered to have a cure.

While this may seem gloomy, the possibility of remission offers a spark of hope. Remission means that doctors cannot find any evidence of mesothelioma remaining in the body. This doesn’t mean that there are no cancerous cells—some may go undetected. But for the most part, when a patient is declared to be in remission, it appears that the mesothelioma is gone. Patients can also be in partial remission when their tumor seems to have stopped growing or has shrunken significantly. When aggressive mesothelioma has stopped spreading, it can be a very good sign.

Treatments Offering the Best Chance of Remission for Mesothelioma

A variety of treatments are being looked at for their efficacy in generating mesothelioma remission. While some are thought to be more effective than others, even less impactful treatments can play a role in helping a patient achieve remission, especially as part of a multimodal treatment approach.

Surgery

Surgery is an integral part of any effort to generate remission. The more aggressive the surgery, the better it will be at combating malignant mesothelioma. Otherwise healthy patients with early stage mesothelioma who qualify for radical surgery will have the best chance at achieving remission. Surgery allows for the complete removal of all visible tumors and sometimes involves scraping to remove as much cancerous tissue as possible. The three primary surgical procedures performed with the intent of causing remission are:

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) (pleural mesothelioma)
  • Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) (pleural mesothelioma)
  • Cytoreduction with HIPEC (peritoneal mesothelioma)

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy involves the use of cytotoxic (cell-killing) agents to destroy cancerous cells. While this form of treatment has shown some success in treating mesothelioma, it works best as part of multimodal therapy. The combination of chemotherapy with radiation and/or surgery has allowed certain mesothelioma patients to reach remission. Doctors can administer chemotherapy before surgery (neoadjuvant) in order to shrink mesothelioma tumors and allow for easier removal. They can also administer it during surgery (intraoperative) in order to kill remaining microscopic cancer cells that may remain after visible tumors are removed. HIPEC (Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy) is one form of intraoperative chemotherapy that has shown incredible success in helping peritoneal mesothelioma patients send their cancer into remission. The direct application of a chemotherapeutic solution to the abdomen has allowed patients to endure higher doses of the anti-cancer drugs, with improved absorption.

In almost all cases, chemotherapy is administered after surgery (adjuvant) and for several weeks ongoing. Chemotherapy is also being continuously improved upon, with new drug combinations being researched and tested for their ability to more effectively treat mesothelioma.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is another form of treatment that’s most valuable in combination with other therapies. Select studies have shown that a pleurectomy/decortication procedure that’s followed by a chemotherapy combination (pemetrexed and cisplatin), and radiation therapy could produce remission in certain pleural mesothelioma patients. Other studies have shown 80% survival rates when radiation therapy is administered before the EPP procedure in a treatment approach called SMART—surgery for mesothelioma after radiation therapy.

Additionally, like chemotherapy, radiation therapy can also be administered intraoperatively.

Clinical Trials

Experimental and cutting-edge treatments may not be as well understood as some of the more common mesothelioma treatments. But many of these new therapies demonstrate the potential to lead to mesothelioma remission. Some mesothelioma survivors have attributed their cancer remission to participation in clinical trials. Remember to keep in mind that all treatments were in the trial stage once. And with the new knowledge that experts have about mesothelioma, future treatment approaches could be even better. To discover chances to participate in mesothelioma clinical trials, speak with a specialist when you have a chance.

Next Steps for Patients in Remission

Achieving remission can be an exciting and emotional milestone in your experience with mesothelioma. While this is definitely worth celebrating, there is still work to be done. Your doctor will arrange follow-up visits with you in order to monitor your health and scan for the return of mesothelioma. The frequency of these visits depends on how long you’ve been in remission—the longer you’ve appeared to be mesothelioma-free, the more often the doctor will want to check for recurrence. While this may be frustrating as it may interfere with other parts of your life, it’s very important. This is because if the mesothelioma comes back, your doctor can find it right away and recommend additional therapies with the aim to send it back into remission.

Remission Update

In addition to checking in regularly with a mesothelioma specialist, you can take steps to improve your general health and immunity yourself. This can be rewarding and motivating, and you’ll notice the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle regardless of what’s happening with your mesothelioma.


While a doctor, nutritionist, and/or counselor can help you form a specific, personalized plan, here are some general guidelines to help you kick-start your healthy living goals:

  • Avoid junk food or overly-processed food. Try to eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables to get all the nutrients you need. Following the 80/20 rule can be fun. This means you’ll eat as healthily as you can 80% of the time and leave 20% of your diet for treats and other comfort foods.
  • Stay active and get enough exercise. This doesn’t mean you need to plow away on a treadmill for hours. Take part in activities that you enjoy doing and get you moving. And take it slow—no need to push yourself too hard, too soon.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated
  • Get enough sleep so that you feel well rested enough to complete your activities for the day
  • Do your best to avoid contracting colds or the flu from others. Getting enough rest can help you avoid colds and the flu.
  • Stay positive!

Mesothelioma Recurrence

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer and is likely to return after a patient has been in remission for some time. Even after aggressive surgery and other therapies are used, some microscopic mesothelioma cells can go undetected. These can then form another tumor. This is an unfortunate reality of living with mesothelioma, but it doesn’t mean hope is lost. Patients who have achieved remission once can certainly do so again. Some mesothelioma patients are able to live with mesothelioma in remission for years before recurrence happens. In certain cases, the cancer can disappear indefinitely.

In the case that the mesothelioma does come back, your doctor will decide how best to proceed with treatment. For patients who were in partial remission, maintenance chemotherapy can be used to manage the reduced size of the tumor and stop it from spreading.

The Future of Mesothelioma Remission

As new treatments demonstrate improved ability to generate remission in mesothelioma patients, doctors have an enticing vision for the future of mesothelioma treatment. While finding a cure may be a long journey, in the near future, doctors hope to treat mesothelioma as an ongoing or chronic illness. The goal of this approach is to generate and maintain remission, while mitigating symptoms for patients. Patients will be able to carry on living healthy lives while working with their doctors to manage their mesothelioma, much in the same way that individuals with diabetes, arthritis, or high blood pressure manage their conditions.

At Mesothelioma Help Now, our experts want to help you achieve the best chance at outliving your prognosis. Get in touch with our dedicated team today at (844) 537-6430 to be linked with top mesothelioma specialists or sign up for free Doctor Match Program. In the meantime, we can answer any questions you may have about your next steps.