Mesothelioma treatment can include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. These treatments alongside the disease can take their toll on your body and quality of life. Palliative care can ease the symptoms of both the disease and its treatment. Below are some options for palliative care that can help.
Mesothelioma and other forms of cancer can cause fluid to build up in your pleural cavity. The pleural cavity is the space between the two membranes of each lung. This space typically has a little fluid, the pleural fluid, but mesothelioma increases the fluid to dangerous levels. The excess fluid increases the pressure on your lungs and makes breathing difficult.
Your doctor can prescribe thoracentesis to drain the excess fluid. During the procedure, the doctor will insert a needle under your ribs to draw the fluid. The doctor may sedate you for the procedure, and you may feel some discomfort afterward. Luckily, the discomfort typically goes away after a day, so you won't spend more than a night at the hospital.
Although mesothelioma majorly affects the lungs, it can also affect the heart. Doctors refer to mesothelioma of the heart as pericardial mesothelioma. If you have the condition, then the double-layered sac around your heart (pericardium) can suffer from excess fluid buildup. The excess fluid affects your heart just as the excess fluid around the lungs affects them.
Pericardiocentesis is the procedure doctors use to remove the excess fluid around the heart. If you need the procedure, your doctor will use a needle plus a catheter to drain the fluid. Pericardiocentesis may take more time than thoracentesis. The former procedure can continue overnight.
The abdomen is another part of your body that can suffer excess fluid because of mesothelioma. Doctors call the condition ascites. If you suffer from ascites, you may feel full most of the time, have a distended stomach, or lose your appetite. These effects can lower your quality of life considerably.
Your doctor may prescribe paracentesis to relieve ascites symptoms. The doctor will insert a needle and a catheter into the stomach to drain the fluid. The stomach cavity can easily hold more fluid than other parts of the body. Thus, you might need repeated paracentesis procedures to remove all the excess fluid.
As you have likely noticed from the above procedures, mesothelioma causes fluid buildup in various parts of the body. However, for most people, the lungs remain the most affected organs. In fact, many mesothelioma patients require multiple thoracentesis procedures to remove excess fluid from the lungs. Multiple procedures can be costly and uncomfortable.
Your doctor may advise you to get pleurodesis treatment if you constantly experience fluid buildup in the lungs. Your doctor will give you medication to adhere your lung to the chest wall. The treatment helps since it eliminates the space in which excess fluid would otherwise build up.
During the procedure, the doctor will use a tube to introduce the pleurodesis into your lungs. The adhesion takes time, and you may have to change positions during the treatment. Changing positions ensures the medication reaches all the necessary surfaces. Expect to recover in a day or two after the procedure.
Mesothelioma can make your life uncomfortable or painful, but it doesn't have to be that way. The right care can help relieve most of the symptoms even as you continue with treatment for the underlying cause.
The Veterans Asbestos Alliance can furnish you with further information you need to deal with the mesothelioma's effect on your life. Contact us for further information if you are a victim of asbestos exposure, which is the main cause of mesothelioma.