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Your treatment for mesothelioma depends on the stage you are in

After suffering from asbestos exposure at some point in your past, you may have subsequently found out that you could end up suffering from a rare and often fatal form of cancer called mesothelioma. You may have worried about developing it for a few years, but after a decade or two went by, you hoped you had escaped that fate.

Then, 30 or 40 years after your initial exposure, you began suffering from shortness of breath and other troubling symptoms. A trip to one or more doctors confirmed that you developed mesothelioma. Now, not only do you wonder about your prognosis, but also about the treatment options available to you.

It depends on how early it was discovered

The stage of your cancer plays a major role in the type of treatment doctors offer you. The sooner it's discovered, the more treatment options you may have. Other factors include your overall health and your preferences.

Stages I, II and III

In stage I, most doctors will explore more surgical options than in stages II and III. In any case, if it appears that doctors could completely remove pleural or peritoneal mesotheliomas, surgery may be an option depending on other factors such as the following:

  • Where the tumors are in your body
  • If you are healthy enough to survive surgery
  • How far the mesotheliomas have grown into other tissues

Depending on the type of mesotheliomas, recovery could include other treatments and require a lengthier recovery period. The problem is that doctors won't know for sure whether surgery will remove all of the cancer until they operate. At that point, it may turn out that surgery will not remove all of the cancer. It becomes a judgment call whether to remove what doctors can safely take out or to stop the procedure.

You and your doctors may explore other treatment options. Doctors fail to agree on whether chemotherapy and/or radiation would work best before or after surgery, if at all. Depending on the circumstances, the only treatment that may work involves simply keeping you comfortable.

Stage IV

In stage IV, surgery is not a viable option. Your doctor may prescribe chemotherapy, which may slow or shrink the tumors and improve your symptoms. You should know that chemotherapy does not cure mesothelioma, and it may only delay the inevitable. Therefore, you may want to consider whether it's worth putting your body through for a temporary, and not guaranteed, reprieve.

Focusing on pain management and other less harsh treatments may serve you better. If doctors previously removed your tumors and they come back, this may also provide the better option. Sadly, no cure for mesothelioma exists, but remission may be possible depending on when doctors discover it.

If you worry about the cost of treatment and other financial losses connected to your cancer, you may be able to recover compensation that could help with those damages. Louisiana's laws are somewhat different from the rest of the country, so you may want to carefully choose the legal resources you use to help with your case.

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