Radiation therapy is one of three standard treatments provided to mesothelioma patients and is often used in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy. None of these mesothelioma treatments, either alone or in combination, can cure the deadly disease, though doctors are able to use various therapies to help control the cancer and prolong a patient’s life.

What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy (also referred to as irradiation, radiotherapy, or X-ray therapy) involves the use of energy waves or particles to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. In some cases, radiation therapy is used where no cancer cells are present to prevent future growth or as a palliative measure to alleviate the symptoms associated with cancer that has spread.

Types of Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma

There are several types of radiation, including external, internal, and systemic, and the type and dose used depend on various factors, including the location and extent of the cancer.

External Radiation

External radiation, as the name suggests, is delivered by a beam from a machine outside the body to a targeted location of cells or tumors inside the body. It is used in the treatment of most cancers, particularly those that are difficult to remove or have a high rate of recurrence, such as mesothelioma. Radiation may be administered prior to surgery to shrink the tumor (this is called neoadjuvant therapy), or it can be administered during surgery. In the latter case, a final, high dose of radiation is aimed directly at the site of the tumor once all or most of it has been removed. External radiation may also be given after surgery to help reduce the rate of recurrence; this is considered a type of adjuvant therapy. A typical course of mesothelioma radiation treatment lasts three to five weeks, with radiation administered five days a week.

Internal Radiation

Internal radiation, or brachytherapy, is less commonly used to treat mesothelioma. Radiation of this nature involves the placement of radioactive material, usually contained in a small tube, capsule, or “seed,” into the body near the site of the cancer (in the chest or the abdomen).

Systemic Radiation

In systemic radiation, a radioactive substance is taken orally or via injection and circulated throughout the body.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Stereotactic radiosurgery is primarily used to treat brain tumors, although it may also be used to treat tumors from mesothelioma. Radiation is concentrated in a high-dose beam to eliminate any remaining tumor or cancer cells after surgery but is itself a non-invasive procedure. It is extremely precise.

Mesothelioma cancer patients interested in stereotactic radiosurgery or another type of radiation therapy should consult with a physician or team of physicians to determine the best, most effective treatment options for them.

Financial Help for Mesothelioma Treatment

If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it may feel like you’re out of financial options. However, someone who has mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure may be entitled to compensation to help cover treatment costs and can gain that compensation with the help of an experienced lawyer. Because mesothelioma is largely caused by asbestos exposure, an attorney may be able to help find ways to cover the cost of several different treatment options. Learn more today.