Mesothelioma treatment guidelines were established by The National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the American Society of Clinical Oncology to ensure that patients and physicians have a framework for diagnosing, monitoring, and treating mesothelioma. These guidelines provide patients with the best chance for improved quality of life and a longer survival rate.

What Are Mesothelioma Treatment Guidelines?

Established by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), mesothelioma treatment guidelines were created to give both patients and physicians a standardized baseline for how mesothelioma patients are treated.

The guidelines recommend a multimodal approach of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy as treatment, utilizing two or more of these therapies at once.

There is no cure for mesothelioma, but researchers have found that compliance with mesothelioma treatment guidelines helps provide patients with the best possible opportunity for a higher quality of life and longer survival rate while fighting mesothelioma.

How Do Mesothelioma Treatment Guidelines Vary?

Not every case of mesothelioma is going to fit within the guidelines, and treatment varies from patient to patient. Each patient will get an individual medical evaluation to see if their case necessitates treatment that deviates from the guidelines.

For instance, in some cases, immunotherapies may be recommended instead of or in conjunction with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Sometimes, doctors may suggest other treatments due to mesothelioma side effects such as pleural effusion, which causes fluid buildup in the cavity between the lungs and the chest.

The guidelines aren’t just treatment directives for doctors, however. They also must be followed by the patients for the benefits to take full effect. For instance, a patient rejecting surgery or chemotherapy, or doing one without the other, may not receive the full benefits of treatment.

What Do Treatment Guidelines Cover?

The treatment guidelines for mesothelioma primarily cover diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. There are also other treatment options for patients if their case requires it.


Diagnosis is typically done through one of several methods: X-ray, CT scan, or biopsy. If an X-ray or CT scan is inconclusive, then a biopsy can provide clarification.

Diagnosis is recommended as early as possible, generally as soon as symptoms present, so that patients have more time to have treatment performed before the disease progresses further.


Surgery is done to remove cancerous tumors or lesions, which is advised in many mesothelioma cases.

Most physicians advise having tumors removed first, and then having chemotherapy or radiation therapy done afterward to prevent further growth of tumors. In some cases, removal of a cancerous lung (pneumonectomy) or removal of the cancerous lung lining may be required.


Chemotherapy, a standard cancer treatment, introduces chemicals into the body which are designed to kill fast-growing cancerous cells. This treatment type is often prescribed for mesothelioma patients after surgery has been done to remove cancerous tumors.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy or alone. Like chemotherapy, it is generally done after surgery has already removed large- or medium-sized cancer tumors.

Additionally, radiation therapy can be done at any stage of the cancer’s development.

Other Treatment Options

A newer treatment option for mesothelioma is immunotherapy, which trains the body’s own immune system to target and kill cancerous cells. Doctors may prescribe immunotherapy because it generally provides fewer adverse side effects than chemotherapy or radiation.

Find Mesothelioma Doctors Who Follow Treatment Guidelines

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or have symptoms, you should talk with a medical professional immediately about treatment. Finding a doctor who follows the mesothelioma treatment guidelines can provide you with the best possible opportunity for a higher quality of life and an extended life span.

We can help you find the best doctors to work with for your unique situation. Get a free case review to learn more about which doctors might be right for your medical needs.

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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. Kindler, Hedy L., et al. “Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline.” Journal of Clinical Oncology,

  2. “NCCN Guidelines for Patients: Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.” National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN),

  3. van Zandwijk, Nico, et al. “Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.” Journal of Thoracic Disease, Pioneer Bioscience Publishing Company, Dec. 2013,

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