Mesothelioma surgery is performed to either slow the growth of cancer or relieve the pain and symptoms it can cause. The mesothelioma surgical recovery process can be challenging depending on which surgery is performed. Thankfully, there are ways to improve the recovery process. Learn more about healing as quickly and complication-free as possible.

What to Know About Mesothelioma Surgery

Mesothelioma surgery can come with potentially serious risks. While most patients will experience some side effects, about 1 in 3 will have significant complications. However, some people who have had surgery for mesothelioma have far outlived their original prognosis. Knowing what options are available to you is the best way to decide if surgery is right for you.

What Are My Mesothelioma Surgery Options?

It is important to note that not all mesothelioma patients are candidates for surgery. Eligibility depends on the location, cell type, and stage of mesothelioma. That said, several surgical options exist that may improve prognosis or quality of life.

Extrapleural Pneumonectomy

One of the most aggressive mesothelioma procedures available is extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP). The surgery is performed on pleural mesothelioma patients with the goal of controlling tumor growth by removing organ parts.

During EPP, partial or full removal of the following may occur:

  • Cancerous lung
  • Diaphragm
  • Pleura (chest lining)
  • Pericardium (heart lining)

EPP is always performed with chemotherapy and sometimes radiation before, during, or after surgery.

The mesothelioma surgical recovery process for EPP often involves a lengthy hospital stay. This is because removing organs forces the heart and remaining lung to work harder. After hospital discharge, an additional six to eight weeks of recovery is often required.

Pleurectomy with Decortication

Early-stage (stage 1 and stage 2) pleural mesothelioma patients may be eligible for pleurectomy with decoration (P/D). The goal of P/D is to relieve symptoms and extend lifespan.

P/D involves removing cancerous tissues from the lung’s pleural lining and chest cavity. Also called lung-sparing surgery, P/D leaves the lungs intact, removing instead the lining and tumor masses.

P/D is less radical than EPP, which means the mesothelioma surgical recovery process is usually shorter. EPP recovery is generally about a month, split between the hospital and home.

Cytoreduction with HIPEC

Some peritoneal mesothelioma patients in overall good health may be eligible for cytoreduction with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC).

Cytoreduction with HIPEC is an invasive procedure designed to remove abdominal tumors. It is known as the most effective surgery for peritoneal mesothelioma.

The procedure involves using chemotherapy during surgery, allowing patients to avoid many typical side effects, such as nausea and hair loss.

Cytoreduction with HIPEC can last 10-12 hours and occurs in two parts:

  1. Performing invasive surgery involving debulking, a process that removes tumors from the abdomen
  2. Flushing the abdominal cavity with a warm chemotherapy agent

The mesothelioma surgical recovery process for Cytoreduction with HIPEC involves a 10-14 days hospital stay and at-home recovery for 2-3 weeks. Patients will likely require an IV during recovery to get the nutrients the body needs to heal.

Managing Anxiety Around Mesothelioma Surgery

Many people don’t realize that the recovery process can actually begin for most patients before the procedure is even performed.

Did You Know?

40% of adult surgical patients experience high anxiety levels and unfavorable effects before, during, and after their procedure.

Pre-surgery anxiety is known to have a major impact on the mesothelioma surgical recovery process. Therefore, it is extremely important to take steps to manage anxiety to increase the likelihood of proper healing.

Ways to reduce anxiety and improve the mesothelioma surgical recovery process include:

  • Consider alternative anxiety treatment options such as music, touch, or pet therapy
  • Have a strong support system of friends and family in place
  • Learn as much as possible about mesothelioma surgery
  • Make a list of questions to ask your mesothelioma surgery team
  • Speak with your medical team about postoperative pain management

Ways to Improve Recovery After Mesothelioma Surgery

Using home health nurses, eating right, getting rest, having a caregiver, and taking medication are some of the best ways to ensure proper post-operative healing.

Additional ways to improve the mesothelioma surgical recovery process include:

  • Being careful when coughing or sneezing
  • Eating and drinking properly
  • Ensuring proper pain management
  • Following your medical team’s instructions
  • Maintaining follow-up appointment schedule
  • Practicing proper wound care around incision sites

Improving recovery after mesothelioma surgery is possible with some planning and a personal commitment to your health.

Mistakes to Avoid During Mesothelioma Surgery Recovery

Another important factor in improving your mesothelioma surgical recovery process is avoiding common pitfalls that can interfere with healing.

Some mistakes to avoid while recovering from mesothelioma surgery involve:

  • Doing too much, too soon
  • Failing to take medications as prescribed
  • Not being as active
  • Skipping recommended rehabilitation

How Long Is the Mesothelioma Surgical Recovery Process?

As discussed above, the mesothelioma surgical recovery process depends upon a number of factors. While many of these are beyond a mesothelioma patient’s control, others can be positively impacted by behavior and lifestyle changes.

Having a solid plan in place before, during, and after your surgery is the best way to improve your recovery results.

Start your treatment path now by connecting with top mesothelioma doctors to find out what mesothelioma surgery you may be eligible for.

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Laura WrightWritten by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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  1. Kain, Z. N. (2017, December 9). How to mentally prepare for surgery and recover faster. Retrieved March 29, 2022, from

  2. Mayo Clinic. (2018, February 15). Cytoreductive surgery and HIPEC offers effective treatment for selected patients with peritoneal carcinomatosis. Retrieved March 29, 2022, from

  3. Robinson, K. (n.d.). 8 mistakes after surgery that slow your recovery. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from

  4. University of California San Francisco. (2022). Extrapleural pneumonectomy. Retrieved March 29, 2022, from–procedures/extrapleural-pneumonectomy.aspx

  5. Vlahu, T., & Vigneswaran, W. (2017, June). Pleurectomy and decortication. Retrieved March 29, 2022, from

  6. Whitlock, J. (2022, February 24). 10 quick tips: How to recover faster after surgery. Retrieved March 29, 2022, from

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