The surgical procedures for asbestosis treatments or mesothelioma are often considerably arduous, especially if the patient is elderly and a diagnosis is made when the disease is likely to have reached an advanced stage and spread to other tissue areas of the body.
News that a possible alternative to invasive surgery may now be possible, comes from latest research being conducted at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
It is because a long latency period of between 15 and 50 years can elapse from first exposure to asbestos until signs of a suspected mesothelioma or asbestosis symptoms appear that often multiple and very aggressive surgery is attempted to remove the widespread cancerous tumours.
The use of specialised treatment procedures can mean remission may sometimes be achieved, although complete remission and the disappearance of all evidence of mesothelioma cancer is rare.
Traditionally, the first procedure would involve diagnostic surgery to assess the stage and severity to which the mesothelioma cancer has advanced. Further potentially curative surgery is possible if performed at an early stage, and the patient is sufficiently capable to withstand intense surgery followed by a long and demanding rehabilitation process.
A new system has been in development at the University of Strathclyde, which could mean that patients suffering from mesothelioma and lung cancer " could receive safer and more efficient treatment". Medications can be now be delivered through a nebuliser, allowing patients to inhale drug treatments in the form of a mist inhaled into the lungs rather than intravenously.
Commonly applied in the medical treatment of cystic fibrosis, asthma, COPD and other respiratory diseases, nebulisers use oxygen, compressed air or ultrasonic power to break up medical solutions/suspensions into small aerosol droplets, which can be directly inhaled from a mouthpiece.
The research hopes that by using cisplatin, one of the most widely used drugs for treating mesothelioma, in a vaporised form, cancerous cells could be more easily targeted and damage to healthy cells would be avoided. As a result, treatment would be less of a debilitating experience for patients and may also increase their survival rate.
The survival rate for the incurable mesothelioma cancer can be between 4 to 12 months. In recent years, medical advances plus combined surgical, radiotherapy and palliative procedures have helped to increase individual patient survival by up to 18 months, and sometimes two years or more. In 2009, alone, over 4,000 deaths occurred which were attributed to mesothelioma and lung cancer.
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