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What are my Treatment Options for Mesothelioma?

Not all mesothelioma patients are the same and all mesothelioma treatment plans are not as well. Some patients are good candidates for surgery while others may respond better to drug treatment without surgery. Fortunately, there are a number of conventional, alternative, and new treatments as well as clinical trials that may work alone or in combination to help treat mesothelioma.

Ways of Treating Mesothelioma

Surgical / Chemotherapy Treatments

illustration of a person wearing hospital mask and cap

Doctors perform surgeries to remove mesothelioma tumors from a patient’s body. Patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma may be eligible for surgery, which are usually one of two types: extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) or pleurectomy with decortication (P/D). Those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma might undergo cytoreduction, which doctors often combine with heated chemotherapy in a procedure called cytoreduction with HIPEC. An early diagnosis may be critical for surgery to be effective.

Chemotherapy is used to prevent the spread or growth of the mesothelioma tumors or to reduce the size of the tumors. Chemotherapy used for mesothelioma patients is often given on three week intervals to allow for recovery between treatments.


illustration of lungs with fluid in them being drained with a syringe

A treatment is palliative when a doctor uses it to relieve pain or discomfort caused by symptoms of mesothelioma.

The most common palliative treatments include draining fluid buildup from the chest or abdomen.

For patients with pleural mesothelioma, the procedure is called a thoracentesis.

Patients with peritoneal mesothelioma patients receive a paracentesis.


illustration of scalpel, and equipment used in heated chemotherapy (indicating multiple types of treatment)

Multimodal therapy is the combination of two or more treatments, usually surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or radiation therapy. Using multiple treatments, doctors can attack mesothelioma cells in more than one way.

For example, using cytoreductive surgery to remove most of the tumors, and using heated chemotherapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

A study by researchers at Dana Farber Cancer Center — one of the highest–rated cancer centers in the U.S. — showed that 22 percent of patients lived at least 5 years after having multimodal therapy.

Types of Mesothelioma Treatments

Conventional Mesothelioma Treatments


The go-to treatment for any type of cancer, chemotherapy is the traditional way to kill off cancer cells in the body.


Patients whose mesothelioma has not spread too far may be eligible for surgical treatment. This is often the best way to remove large portions of cancerous tissue.


Radiation is another traditional cancer treatment. Radiation therapy is noninvasive and can be beneficial for all stages and types of mesothelioma.


Drugs that activate the immune system to target and kill mesothelioma cells are known as immunotherapy treatments. These types of treatments are becoming more common.

medical professional's hands adjusting an IV drip

Alternative Mesothelioma Treatments

looking over medical professional's shoulder at chest x-ray film on a lightboard

Gene Therapy

This is an experimental technique that uses genes to treat mesothelioma.

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy is a two stage treatment that uses light energy combined with drug treatments to treat or destroy mesothelioma cancer cells.

Visual or Guided Imagery

A method of relaxation treatments to calm anxiety and promote physical and emotional healing.

Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy

Intraperitoneal chemotherapy (also called IP chemotherapy) is used to treat peritoneal mesothelioma and allows a very high dose of chemotherapy to be delivered to the tumor and only a very low dose to the rest of the body to help minimize side effects, while aggressively treating the tumor.

Monoclonal Antibody Therapy

Laboratory-produced molecules act as substitute antibodies which can restore, enhance or mimic the immune system’s attack on the mesothelioma cells.

Clinical Trials for Mesothelioma Treatments

Clinical trials are carefully planned where researchers develop, test, and refine treatments for patients. Researchers are creating, testing, and refining new treatments every day giving patients hope to improve their prognosis. New drugs and treatments are constantly being tested at cancer centers across the country to find more effective ways to fight mesothelioma. If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, you should discuss this with your doctor.

Mesothelioma treatment is getting better every year and patients are living longer as a result. Patients may turn to traditional therapies, like chemotherapy and radiation, as well as clinical trials, which may lead to a cure in the future.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is usually important to begin treatment as soon as possible. Speak with your doctor to understand the mesothelioma treatment options for your specific diagnosis. If you want to know what questions to ask your doctor or simply want more information about treatment options, please let us know.

Background: a lab worker in mask, gown and gloves uses a pipette to fill a petri dish; Foreground: circle graphic with text 'New Drugs and Treatments are constantly being tested across the country.'