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This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don't hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

About treatment

After the cancer is found and staged, your doctor will talk to you about treatment options. The main factors in choosing a treatment are the size and place of the tumor, whether it has spread, your overall health, and your own preferences.

Based on these factors, your treatment options may include:

In many cases, more than one of these treatments may be used.

Because this is a rare cancer, it has been hard for doctors to compare the value of different treatments. Since many doctors have little or no experience treating this disease, you may be referred to a specialist at a large medical center. One problem with treating mesothelioma is that it does not grow as a single tumor. Instead, it tends to spread along surfaces, nerves, and blood vessels. This makes it hard for treatment to get rid of all of the disease.

You may have different types of doctors on your treatment team, depending on the stage of your cancer and your treatment options. These doctors may include:

  • A thoracic surgeon: a doctor who treats diseases of the lungs and chest with surgery.
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy.
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy.
  • A pulmonologist: a doctor who specializes in medical treatment of diseases of the lungs.

Many other experts may be involved in your care as well, such as nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, and other health professionals.

Mesothelioma is rare, so if time permits it is a good idea to get an opinion from a doctor who has a lot of experience in treating people with this cancer. A second opinion can give you more information and help you feel better about the treatment choice you make.

Last Medical Review: 10/02/2012
Last Revised: 10/02/2012