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Understanding Surgical Options

Surgery is a common treatment option for mesothelioma, as it is an effective way to remove the cancer. Depending on the type of mesothelioma, as well as the degree to which it has advanced, surgery may be recommended as a way to potentially cure the disease or simply as a way to relieve pain and other symptoms.Surgery is most often recommended when mesothelioma is diagnosed at an early stage. If it is not possible for surgeons to remove all of the cancer, surgery is still beneficial, as it can help reduce the symptoms and increase a patient’s quality of life. Even when the doctor is able to remove all visible cancer during the surgery, it is not uncommon for a patient to also receive radiation therapy or chemotherapy after the procedure to kill any cancerous cells that may have been left behind.

3 Most Common Surgical Treatments

Extrapleural pneumonectomy, also known as “EPP,” is a surgical treatment option for patients with pleural mesothelioma—a form of cancer that develops in the lungs. The procedure involves removing the diseased lung, as well as part of the membrane covering the heart, the membrane lining the chest, and part of the diaphragm, which is the muscle between the lungs and the abdomen. This surgery is an option best suited to patients who are in otherwise good health and whose condition has advanced no further than stage 1 or stage 2.

Pleurectomy/decortication, also known as “P/D,” is an alternative surgery to EPP. It is less invasive than EPP and may be equally beneficial. The procedure involves removing part of the covering of the lungs and chest lining, as well as part of the outside surface of the lungs. This surgical option is best for patients in stage 1 of the disease, with the tumor contained within the lining of the lungs (the pleura).

Cytoreduction with HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy) is a procedure designed to remove tumors in the abdomen. This approach may be an option for people who are diagnosed with early-stage peritoneal mesothelioma, as well as for patients who are living with more advanced stages of the disease. Doctors call this a “multimodal” treatment because it requires 2 steps. The first step is the actual surgery, which is immediately followed by HIPEC—the delivery of a heated chemotherapy treatment directly inside the abdomen to kill any remaining cancer cells or tumors not visible to the naked eye.