treatment is aimed at removing the cancer cells so they do not spread beyond
the area they are located. There are different methods for defeating mesothelioma
cancer cells. A cancerous tumor can be removed through surgery. After surgery
there will likely still by cancer cells in the area that have the ability to
spread to other parts of the body. To prevent that from happening, chemotherapy
is implemented by injecting or giving the patient drugs in pill form. The
chemotherapy drugs kill the cancer cells and some healthy cells leaving the
patient feeling ill during the mesothelioma treatment.
Doctors and researchers have been coming up with alternate ways to fight cancer. Photodynamic therapy, germ cell therapy and immunotherapy are all different methods that can be used singularly or combined with chemotherapy.
These methods are based on exposing sensitive cancer cells to light, placing healthy genes in the body to replace sick ones and changing the way the immune system reacts to cancer cells.
Chemotherapy follows the removal of the cancerous tumor. When the tumor is removed, most of the cancer is gone, however, many cancer cell can remain in the body. The remaining cancer cells will eventually spread beyond the original infected area and elevate the cancer to a higher stage. This is where the chemotherapy drugs become necessary. The chemotherapy drugs can be a combination of injections and pills that aim at killing cancer cells in the body. As the chemotherapy slowly works, usually needing two or three sessions, many healthy cells die in the process. To combat this problem, stem cell transplants are used where the patient has healthy cells removed prior to the chemotherapy. The healthy cells are placed back in the body and settle in the bone marrow. With the new healthy cells in the body, over time the patient is able to heal should the whole process be executed successfully.
Photodynamic therapy is a form or mesothelioma cancer treatment that is best used for killing cancer cells that are near the surface of the body, not deep in the organs or in a well developed stage. During the treatment, a high intensity light drug is injected into the patient which "lights up" the cancer cells. The cancer cells are more sensitive to light than normal cells. The treatment is able to target and latch onto the cancer cells, making them an easy target for doctors. With the cancer cells distinguishable from the normal cells, a high intensity beam is shined on the cancer cells. The beam activates the photosensitizing drug that was originally shined on to the cancer cells and that kills the cancer cells. Photodynamic therapy is usually used along with chemotherapy because photodynamic therapy alone may not be enough to cure the patient of cancer.
Gene therapy is a mesothelioma treatment method that has not been approved by the FDA for public use. Only those granted permission for a clinical trial are eligible to receive the treatment. The main idea in gene therapy is altering the genes in a patient's body so that sick genes can be removed and replaced or even "turned off". If doctors can turn off a gene that is creating cancer cells the cancer should not be able to grow. If a gene is known as sick and may produce cancer, a healthy gene should be able to move in a take it's place. In order to send genes to different places in the body, vectors must be used. Our body usually uses viral vectors to more genes around. Viruses and infections travel on these vectors. Researchers are searching for way to get good genes to travel on viral vectors or create non-viral vectors. There is also a "suicide gene" doctors are working on. This gene would kill itself once a drug called prodrug takes effect on it. Until the FDA approves gene therapy for wide spread use, most mesothelioma patients will not undergo the treatment.
Immunotherapy is based on the idea that doctors can teach patient's immune systems to react differently to cells produced by the body that are carrying cancer antigens. Normally, the immune system only fights things that are foreign to the body such as viruses. The immune system can not fight cancer cells because it does not kills cells produced by the body even though there are cancerous antigens on the surface of the cells. There are different approaches to take with immunotherapy. The cancer cells can be grown and bonded with healthy cells which create antibodies. Antibodies are normally made by the immune system. With the new antibodies made they are placed in with the cancer cells and they latch on and kill them. Another way is to alter the antigens on the cancer cells so they are viewed as foreign and the immune system will kill them. The last way is controlling the cytokines, which tell the immune system what to do. Doctors will try and tell the cytokines to tell the immune system to attack the cancer cells in this method.