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Potential Complications When Receiving Mesothelioma Treatment

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on November 5, 2021

While there is no known cure for mesothelioma, treatments are available that can improve a patient’s prognosis, life expectancy and standard of living. Unfortunately, these treatments can come with complications that impact a patient’s health and safety. Discuss the potential complications associated with your chosen treatment plan with your doctor for more information.

Common Mesothelioma Treatments Available

Mesothelioma is a terminal cancer diagnosis, but in this day and age, state-of-the-art treatments are available to help a patient manage the effects of this disease. All mesothelioma cases are treated individually. A physician will create a mesothelioma treatment plan based on the patient’s unique case, including the type of cancer, the area(s) of the body affected, the stage of cancer and the patient’s overall health. The main types of mesothelioma treatments available are:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Clinical trials
  • Palliative care

Surgery is generally an option to remove as much of cancer as possible for patients who are diagnosed in the early stages of mesothelioma. Surgery is often followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells left behind after the operation. Advanced clinical trials may also offer the latest treatments being tested by scientists and doctors. If a patient is too far past the point of treatment, he or she may receive palliative care to make the patient more comfortable during the end of life.

Post-Operative Complications

Pleural mesothelioma is the most often diagnosed type of mesothelioma. The two most common surgeries related to treating pleural mesothelioma are extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy. Extrapleural pneumonectomy is an extensive operation where a surgeon removes several parts of the lung and surrounding area. Pleurectomy is the removal of part of the lining of the lung. Since these are two extensive surgeries, they come with several associated risks.

Both of these surgeries can result in postoperative complications for a patient such as:

  • Cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Atrial fibrillation (very rapid heartbeat)
  • Inflammation of the pericardium (the lining around the heart)
  • Pleural effusion (fluid buildup in the chest)
  • Collapsed lung
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood clots
  • Hemorrhaging (bleeding)
  • Nerve damage

Other types of mesotheliomas can come with other surgical risks, as they impact other parts of the body. A surgeon will review all of the potential complications, side effects and risks that may be involved with a specific mesothelioma surgery option and obtain the patient’s informed consent before proceeding. The risks will generally vary based on the type of surgery being performed, the patient’s medical history, and his or her overall health.

Possible Side Effects of Mesothelioma Treatment

In most cases, surgery is followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy to treat mesothelioma. These techniques use special drugs or high-dosage radiation applied to cancer cells in an attempt to shrink or kill them. Both of these treatments can have a variety of side effects and complications for a patient, including:

  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Respiratory infections
  • Skin irritation from radiation
  • Emotional effects

Discuss your unique case and treatment options with your doctor to find out if chemotherapy is right for you. You may also be eligible for immunotherapy, which is a targeted treatment applied directly to the tumor site. Targeted treatments often come with fewer risks and complications, as they are not applied throughout the entire body.

If you encounter any complications when receiving mesothelioma treatment, this could increase the costs of your medical care and cause further physical pain and emotional suffering related to your diagnosis. Discuss your mesothelioma case with a mesothelioma attorney in New York to find out if you are eligible for legal action to help you cover these costs.

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