Of the many different types of cancer that exists, asbestos caused lung melanoma, also know as bronchial carcinoma and mesothelioma, is now responsible for 1% of all cancer related deaths worldwide. Mesothelioma cancer is directly associated with the exposure to asbestos, of which shows no immediate detrimental signs to the health, and takes many years to develop within the body. Although it is extremely difficult to treat, once diagnosed, Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy and Stereotactic Body Radiosurgery, have all been used with a certain degree of success.
Chemotherapy is commonly used to treat mesothelioma cancer due to its ability to either, attack directly, or to poison the dividing cancer cells anywhere in the body. However, healthy cells are also affected during the treatment, causing side effects that are usually attributed to the patients hair falling out as the hair cells are attacked along with the gastrointestinal, and normal bone marrow cells. Dacarbazine and Temozolomide, are two chemotherapy drugs that are often used with melanoma spread cancers, of which up to 20% of all patients who have been treated with either one of the drugs, have experienced a notable reduction in the size of their tumours.
Immunotherapy is another option, as it works by boosting the ability of the immune system, which in turn allows the immune system to fight off the cancerous cells. The side effects are less severe than those of chemotherapy, however, patients usually suffer from heavy flu-like symptoms which are prolonged by the duration of the treatment. Interferon Alfa and Interleukin-2, are two drugs that are often used to treat melanoma spread cancers, of which when administered to patients in high doses, help to stimulate the immune system.
Stereotactic Body Radiosurgery is also used to treat mesothelioma cancer. The patient is first immobilized in a frame to stop any movement, as computer imaging techniques are then used to identify precisely where the cancerous cells are. These cells are in turn destroyed by being given high dosages of radiation. The treatment is particularly effective against mesothelioma cancer, as it allows high dosages of radiation to be administered precisely, which destroy the cancerous cells while causing minimal damage to the surrounding cells that are healthy. Although, this treatment is only recommended for use on relatively healthy patients.
Surgery is a last result, and is something that is not usually recommended with melanoma spread lung cancers. The prognosis is often poor, as the patients five-year to ten-year survival rate is usually estimated to be under 25%.