Can Mesothelioma Go Into Remission?
Yes. Although it is rare, many patients have achieved long-term remission despite being given a poor health outlook (mesothelioma prognosis) at first.
Remission is a term doctors use to describe how much a patient’s cancer symptoms have decreased or disappeared. Patients with malignant mesothelioma can reach remission when they show no visible signs of cancer, also known as No Evidence of Disease (NED).
The ultimate goal for all patients and their health care team is complete mesothelioma remission.
Short-term remission is often possible if the cancer is caught before it spreads through the body. Some patients have even achieved long-term remission for 20 years or more. Both malignant pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma patients may be able to reach remission.
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What Is Mesothelioma Recurrence?
Recurrence occurs when mesothelioma returns despite treatments that previously sent the patient into full or partial remission. Mesothelioma recurrence can happen months or even years after remission.
Doctors typically treat patients in full or partial remissions as though they have a chronic illness due to the risk of recurrence.
Patients in remission are encouraged to schedule follow-up appointments and closely monitor any new symptoms that come up. This can help treat mesothelioma recurrence if it occurs. Patients who have achieved remission once may be capable of achieving it again.
Types of Mesothelioma Remission
There are two types of remission: full and partial. Learn more about the types of remission below.
Full (or complete) remission occurs when all symptoms and signs of cancer in the body are gone. Complete mesothelioma remission rates are very low. That said, some patients do go on to achieve full remission and can live cancer-free for years.
It is important to note that complete mesothelioma remission is not a cure. There’s always a chance of recurrence as there may still be some microscopic cancer cells in the body after treatment.
Partial remission describes a significant improvement in the patient’s cancer but not a complete disappearance.
A patient will likely have fewer symptoms and feel better if they achieve partial remission.
Mesothelioma Remission and Treatments
Full or partial remission may be achieved through different mesothelioma treatment options. The overall goals of mesothelioma treatments are to reduce the presence of cancer in the body, ease symptoms, and potentially increase life expectancy through remission.
Each patient’s case is unique. Some respond better to certain treatments than others and have greater chances of achieving remission. Sometimes remission is considered spontaneous and treatments do not play a major role.
Registered Nurse Amy Fair discusses standard mesothelioma treatments and how patients can pick the best option. View Transcript.
Duration: 2 min 01 sec
What do I need to know about mesothelioma treatments?
It’s really important for your doctors, your oncologists, your surgeons to explain to you what stage you’re in – to explain to you what type of mesothelioma you have. You have to understand your disease, you have to understand the type of disease, and you have to understand the stage of the disease. Many people have to make decisions as far as quality and quantity of life.
What are my treatment options for mesothelioma?
The standard treatment options for mesothelioma is a surgical approach. In pleural mesothelioma, they will offer the patient a pleural decortication where they strip the lining of the lung. They may offer to the patient a pneumonectomy and that is removing the whole lung, not just the lining. They may offer radiation to shrink the tumor first. Also, radiation gives them palliative care if that tumor is pressing on vital organs or nerves and causing pain, they may want to go in and do radiation first to shrink that tumor. Then of course there is the chemotherapy approach, and again sometimes multiple modalities are used. Surgical approach, radiation, and chemotherapy. It is a clinical individual fit for that particular person.
How can I decide what treatment is best for me?
When deciding what treatment modality is best for you it’s important to communicate with your surgeon, to communicate with your oncologist. You need to get an understanding on their thoughts if you’re a candidate for chemotherapy. Are you a candidate to have surgery? Although all that is very important, the individual decision for what type of therapy lies within the mesothelioma patient.
Learn more about treatment options that may lead to mesothelioma remission below.
Surgery is arguably the best option to achieve mesothelioma remission. During mesothelioma surgery, the surgeon will remove the cancer that lines the organs.
Patients diagnosed with stage 1 or stage 2 mesothelioma are often eligible for life-extending surgery that could possibly lead to remission. In these early stages, the cancer hasn’t spread very far and is easier to treat.
Some common mesothelioma surgeries include:
- Cytoreduction with HIPEC: Peritoneal mesothelioma surgery to remove the cancerous lining of the abdomen and any surrounding tumors. The surgery site is then bathed in heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) to kill leftover cells not removed through surgery.
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP): Pleural mesothelioma surgery to remove the cancerous lung and any nearby tissue. This is often combined with chemotherapy to make remission more likely.
- Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D): Pleural mesothelioma surgery to remove the cancerous lining of the lung (pleura) and any mesothelioma tumors on the surface of the lung. Neither lung is removed, unlike in an EPP. Surgeons may often combine the P/D with radiation to destroy remaining mesothelioma cells.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, your doctor can see which surgery (if any) may help you achieve remission.
Although individual treatment methods can help some patients achieve remission, many mesothelioma specialists use multimodal therapy for best results.
Multimodal therapy is the combination of more than one type of treatment and has been found to improve mesothelioma survival rates and quality of life for patients. Doctors can use a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and more to help patients reach remission.
Patients with early-stage mesothelioma are usually the best candidates for this type of aggressive treatment regimen.
Clinical trials are conducted by researchers to test new cancer treatments and improve existing ones. Patients can possibly reach mesothelioma remission in clinical trials, depending on how their cancer responds to the treatments being studied.
During a clinical trial, researchers compare the new treatment to an existing one and note any possible side effects. Finally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can review the trial’s results and recommend if the treatment should be regularly used or not.
Find the right treatment to help you achieve mesothelioma remission.
How to Improve Your Chances of Mesothelioma Remission
Besides getting treated, there are several steps you can take to help your body fight cancer and work toward mesothelioma remission. Learn how you can improve your chances of mesothelioma remission below.
Stay In Good Health
While patients cannot change certain factors such as their age or the type of mesothelioma they have, they have the option to improve their overall health by exercising, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
Physical activity can ease the side effects of cancer treatment such as pain, stiffness, and fatigue. Even gentle, light activities such as walks and yoga can help patients to sleep better and reduce stress.
See a Mesothelioma Specialist
Mesothelioma is a very rare type of cancer and the only known cause is asbestos exposure. Because of this, it is important to see an oncologist (cancer doctor) that has experience diagnosing and treating this cancer.
Working with a top mesothelioma doctor who can perform treatments can potentially improve life expectancy and help you reach remission.
Get a Second Opinion
Since mesothelioma is so rare, it can often get misdiagnosed as more common and less severe diseases. It is highly important to get a second opinion if you believe you have been misdiagnosed.
It may also be helpful to get a second opinion on your treatment options. Some specialists may prefer to use certain treatments over others depending on your overall mesothelioma diagnosis and health outlook.
Getting a second opinion can ensure you know about every option available to you. If you or a loved one has mesothelioma and is seeking treatment to achieve remission, use our Free Doctor Match to find a specialist today.
Get Help Working Toward Mesothelioma Remission
Although mesothelioma often has a poor health outlook since it’s highly aggressive, patients may be able to improve their life expectancy and reach remission.
Thankfully, there are many treatment options available to mesothelioma patients at world-renowned cancer centers to help them win their battle.
Treatment options such as chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and more can help patients achieve partial or full mesothelioma remission. These treatments may also help if mesothelioma recurrence happens.
To find potentially life-extending treatment from a top specialist, use our Mesothelioma Doctor Match right now.
Mesothelioma Remission FAQs
Does mesothelioma go into remission?
Yes, in some cases. Some mesothelioma patients can reach full or partial mesothelioma remission with the help of cancer treatment.
The goal of every mesothelioma treatment plan is to help patients reach NED (No Evidence of Disease) or slow the growth of cancer if possible.
Treatment plans can also be adjusted or updated if a patient experiences a mesothelioma recurrence.
Has anyone survived mesothelioma?
Yes. Many patients have achieved remission and outlived their life expectancies. These patients are considered mesothelioma survivors.
Doctors hope that with continued research, more mesothelioma patients will live longer and achieve long-term remission.
What is the longest anyone has lived with mesothelioma?
Paul Kraus is the world’s longest-living mesothelioma survivor. Paul was diagnosed with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma in 1997 but is still alive today.
Paul credits his long-term survival to a complete overhaul of his diet, exercise plan, and outlook on life.
Paul also survived the Holocaust and several other bouts of cancer.
How do you reach mesothelioma remission?
There is no way to guarantee you will reach mesothelioma remission, but there are many steps you can take to improve your odds.
Treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to remove as much cancer can all be used to help you achieve remission. Your doctor can determine which treatments will work best for you.
You can also work toward mesothelioma remission by exercising more, not smoking, and improving your diet.
Even if you can’t reach remission, taking these steps can go a long way to easing your symptoms and/or helping you live longer.