Multimodal therapy uses 2 or more different types of treatments in combination to kill cancer cells. The treatments traditionally include a mix of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. More and more, new therapies being tested in clinical trials are being added to the current mix. Studies show that a multimodal approach is more effective than a single treatment.
Why Try Multimodal Therapy?
Chemotherapy and radiation are common treatment options for many types of cancer that grow as a single tumor mass. But mesothelioma is different. Instead of growing as 1 tumor, it tends to spread throughout the surrounding tissue, nerves, and blood vessels, so removing all of the mesothelioma cancer using either chemotherapy or radiation is very difficult. That’s why doctors have begun using a multimodal approach—and with good results. It is proving to be more effective at killing the cancer cells in harder-to-reach places.
Multimodal Therapy Includes a Combination of Treatments
The following treatments can be used in combination to create a unique multimodal therapy tailored to each patient’s specific situation.
Surgery: Surgery can be an effective treatment option for mesothelioma patients, especially when the disease is diagnosed at an early stage. A small number of patients may be cured surgically, but even if that is not possible, surgery can still help relieve a patient’s pain or other symptoms. The most common surgical treatments are extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), pleurectomy/decortication (P/D), and cytoreduction with HIPEC.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a drug-based treatment often used in the treatment of mesothelioma. There are more than 100 chemotherapy drugs, and they are often used in combination to improve their effectiveness. Chemotherapy can be used before surgery to try to shrink a tumor before the surgeon attempts to remove it. This is called neoadjuvant therapy. Or it can be used after surgery to help kill any remaining cancer cells and to prevent the cancer from returning. This is called adjuvant therapy.
Radiation: Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or waves, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. It is one of the most common treatments for mesothelioma. Scientific advances have made this approach more effective. New techniques now make it possible to target mesothelioma tumors more precisely with minimal damage to the healthy tissue surrounding the cancer.
Radiation therapy can be given in 3 ways:
- Externally: via an X-ray or other machine
- Internally: via a radioactive implant that a surgeon places inside the patient as close to the cancer as possible
- Systemically: via an injection or taken by mouth in pill form
Emerging treatments: New types of treatments are being researched all the time in clinical trials. The most promising techniques are then made available to more patients. For example, one new treatment uses drugs that are specially engineered to attack a patient’s particular type of cancer. Doctors and scientists believe that these customized drugs may be more effective. Your doctor will let you know which new treatments might be appropriate for you.