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Asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral with versatile properties and the ability to withstand high heat and hazardous chemicals, was used throughout much of the 20th century. Its use was not limited to one industry or another, as companies in various industries used asbestos-containing materials for various purposes. The most widely spread use for asbestos was as an insulator since it is highly heat-resistant and, therefore, could protect not only buildings or structures from fire, but people as well. Protective clothing worn by personnel at power plants, shipyards and more was also lined with asbestos.
Undamaged, asbestos is fairly safe; however, once it becomes friable, tiny fibers are released into the air. If inhaled or ingested by humans, the asbestos fibers can be hazardous and, in many cases, deadly as it eventually turns cancerous. Asbestos exposure has been directly linked to the development of mesothelioma and other deadly cancers. Anyone who believes they have been exposed to asbestos should seek an immediate medical examination.
Mesothelioma Treatment Options for Patients
There are a number of treatment options available for mesothelioma patients. The type of treatment option suggested by a mesothelioma expert will depend on a number of key factors. These factors include the age of the patient, the type of mesothelioma he has and the stage the cancer is in. The overall health of the patient is also considered when determining the correct treatment path to follow.
Most oncologists will offer curative and palliative treatment options for patients in stages one and two of the disease. At these stages, the cancer is still localized, which means it has not spread past the infected organ. When the cancer has progressed to stages three and four, which means the cancer has spread beyond the infected organ, only palliative treatments are suggested by oncologists. Although there is no known cure, the success and survival rates of mesothelioma patients have been on the rise as research into the disease has developed. Palliative treatments can include acupuncture, massage, meditation and more, while curative treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
Chemotherapy as an Option
Oncologists tend to suggest chemotherapy as an additional treatment option. The main purpose of chemotherapy is to kill off cancerous cells in the body. When chemotherapy is used in conjunction with other curative treatments such as surgery and radiation, the chances for survival increase. These options are only available to patients in stages one or two and involve removing the infected area or whole organ and then using radiation and chemotherapy to keep the cancer from re-emerging. Chemotherapy is also used in stages three and four but not for the same reasons. In order to relieve some of the pain and discomfort that come with mesothelioma, chemotherapy is used to try and reduce the number of cancerous cells.
Usually, a combination of chemotherapy medicines will be used on a patient to try and get the best results. First line chemotherapy is usually the most effective and the most desirable, involving the use of pemetrexed and cisplatin. If positive results cannot be gained through the first line option, a second line chemotherapy option is used. Doctors will often use the same combination or change it up to try and get better results.