Some mesothelioma survivors will experience a recurrence, or a return of their cancer after a period of it being undetectable. However, there isn’t a way to predict with any certainty which patients will have a recurrence or when it might occur. Therefore, it is beneficial for patients to carefully adhere to their physician-recommended schedules for follow-up visits, while also staying alert for any symptoms that could indicate a mesothelioma recurrence.
If mesothelioma comes back, it often causes the same symptoms as it did in the first occurrence; chest pain, coughing and shortness of breath are all common. Treatment, however, tends to be different for a mesothelioma recurrence – especially if a patient already had a more extensive surgery, such as an extrapleural pneumonectomy, during their first round of treatment. When treating recurrent mesothelioma, an oncologist might recommend:
- A chest wall resection surgery to remove part of a tumor without affecting any nearby organs or major structures
- First-line chemotherapy using cisplatin and either pemetrexed or raltitrexed, in cases where a patient has not received chemotherapy previously
- Second-line chemotherapy using a different combination of drugs, in cases where a patient has already had chemotherapy as part of his or her initial treatment
- A novel biological therapy, targeted therapy or chemotherapy drug available through a clinical trial
Patients whose mesothelioma has come back might also receive additional treatments to help with symptom control. For instance, when used as part of a mesothelioma recurrence treatment plan, radiation therapy is primarily intended to shrink tumors to reduce pressure within the chest or abdomen. A pleurodesis or thoracentesis (procedures used to drain a pleural effusion, or fluid in the space around the lungs) might also be recommended to help reduce coughing and shortness of breath.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, our oncologists can expertly treat your mesothelioma recurrence using the best possible combination of options, from chemotherapy and radiation therapy to surgery and clinical trials. Our goal is to provide patients with the best outcome and quality of life, regardless of whether this is their first round of treatment or their fifth.
To learn more about treatment for a mesothelioma recurrence, or to schedule a diagnostic consultation if you are experiencing new or recurrent symptoms, schedule an appointment by calling 1-888-MOFFITT or submitting a new patient registration form online.