A diagnosis of mesothelioma tells you what the underlying issue is, but that alone does not tell you what treatment options will be used or what chances you have to beat this disease. Mesothelioma can be either resectable or unresectable. What is the difference?
This term just tells you if all of the cancer that is visible to the medical team, assuming nothing has been missed, can be surgically removed. If it can be, that's a resectable mesothelioma. If it cannot be removed by surgery alone, that's an unresectable mesothelioma.
To decide, doctors will ask some of the following questions:
- What stage is the cancer? Most stage I pleural mesotheliomas can be removed with surgery alone. Some can be at stage II and stage III. Once you get to stage IV, that is no longer an option. It is also worth noting that there are plenty of exceptions to the rule. You could have a stage I unresectable mesothelioma.
- What is the subtype of the tumor? In most cases, medical experts do not think that surgery alone can be used to remove sarcomatoid tumors.
- Where is the tumor located in the body? Proximity to vital organs may be very important.
- How connected is the tumor to the other tissues in the area? If it has grown deeply into tissue that cannot be removed, surgery may not work.
- How healthy is the patient? Surgery can be traumatic. Will the person recover? What other health conditions does he or she have?
As you get all of the facts and look into the type of cancer that you have, make sure you also look into your legal options.
Source: American Cancer Society, "Treatment of Mesothelioma Based on the Extent of the Cancer," accessed May 25, 2018