After wondering for years, probably decades, if your exposure to asbestos would result in mesothelioma, your doctor gave you the unfortunate news that you do now suffer from this condition. More than likely, one of the first things you heard about your condition is that no cure for it exists. This might make you wonder whether treatment is even an option for you.
Then again, once the shock wears off, you may begin wondering what types of treatment you will undergo. Understanding how doctors decide a course of treatment for this condition largely depends on what stage of this rare cancer you are in when diagnosed, which could affect whether surgery would help you.
Would surgery remove all visible traces of the cancer?
In addition to your overall health, your doctors would consider your preferences. Even so, one of the treatment options is surgery, but doctors generally shy away from it unless it would remove all visible traces of the cancer. Removing all of the cancer increases your long-term outlook.
Generally, if you are in Stage I, you could benefit from surgery. If you are in either Stage II or Stage III, the chances that surgery would help diminish. Of course, another factor in whether surgery is a viable option depends on the type of tumor you have. Another factor in whether surgery is a treatment option for you is whether your body could tolerate it regardless of the stage of the cancer.
When combining surgery with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, you could enjoy a prolonged remission. Even if you appear to be a good candidate for surgery, once the operation begins, it may become clear that doctors cannot completely remove the cancer. The surgeon may proceed to remove what is visible or stop the procedure, depending on the circumstances.
What happens if surgery wouldn't work?
If you are in Stage IV, surgery will most likely not help your condition. As mentioned above, this could also happen in earlier stages. In that case, the primary treatment becomes chemotherapy. This may not put you into remission, but it could slow the progress of the cancer and give you more time.
Another primary goal of treatment under these conditions is palliative care, which aims at making you comfortable in the time you have left. Pain management becomes an important part of your treatment in this case.
What if the cancer comes back or progresses more quickly?
Sadly, the chances of the cancer coming back or speeding up its progression are higher than anyone would like. Whether you will get through more treatment depends on a variety of factors, not the least of which is how your body would tolerate any further medical intervention.