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Mesothelioma

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Radiation therapy for mesothelioma

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. Radiation may be used for mesothelioma:

  • to relieve pain or to control the symptoms of advanced mesothelioma (palliative radiation therapy)
    • Radiation therapy is most often used to relieve symptoms in people with advanced mesothelioma.
    • Radiation therapy may be used in people who cannot have surgery because of poor health.
  • after surgery to destroy cancer cells left behind and to reduce the risk of the cancer recurring (adjuvantadjuvantTreatment given in addition to the first-line therapy (the first or standard treatment) to help reduce the risk of a disease (such as cancer) coming back (recurring). radiation therapy)
    • Radiation therapy is usually used after surgery, such as after extrapleural pneumonectomy for pleural mesothelioma. Radiation therapy is given to the side of the chest where the mesothelioma and lung were removed. This may be referred to as hemithoracic radiation.
    • Radiation therapy is not usually used after pleurectomy and decortication (P/D) for pleural mesothelioma because of the large area that needs to be treated and the side effects that can occur due to radiation on the lung.

The amount of radiation given during treatment, and when and how it is given, will be different for each person.

External beam radiation therapy

Mesothelioma is usually treated with external beam radiation therapy. A machine directs radiation to the tumour and some of the surrounding tissue.

A newer type of external beam radiation therapy, called intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), may be used to more accurately treat mesothelioma while reducing the amount of radiation to surrounding normal tissue. IMRT helps reduce side effects to normal tissue.

See a list of questions to ask your doctor about radiation therapy.

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