Multimodal treatment refers to the use of multiple treatment options administered to treat a disease. This form of therapy is used in the treatment of a number of cancers, not just mesothelioma. Although mesothelioma patients currently have no cure to rely on to battle this disease, a range of treatments do exist, offering patients hope when combined. Mesothelioma patients can generally expect an average life expectancy that ranges from around four to 18 months. However, patients who undergo a multimodal approach see an improved rate of survival, even at the 5-year survival plateau.
Want to know more about mesothelioma? Fill out the form below to receive a free info packet within 24 hours.
Multimodal mesothelioma treatment is not a realistic option for every patient, especially because it generally involves undergoing surgery, which is not appropriate for late stage cancers. A common multimodal course of mesothelioma treatment includes surgery to remove the tumor, then chemotherapy inserted directly into the cancer site, followed by the use of radiation therapy to kill remaining cancer cells. However, gene therapy or immunotherapy may also be used and treatments may occur in a number of different combinations. For example, in some cases radiation therapy may precede all other treatments in an effort to shrink the tumor prior to surgery.
The study of multimodal therapy began in the early 1970s, with doctors and scientists beginning to study the potential benefits. By the late 1970s, the first trials of multimodal therapy began when chemotherapy or chemoradiotherapy were added to surgical procedures. Thought these first trials were not performed on mesothelioma patients, doctors eventually began applying this treatment to mesothelioma patients, who often do not respond to traditional methods.
After taking into account that mesothelioma remains an incurable cancer, multimodal therapy appears to represent the best chance at prolonging mesothelioma patient survival. Nevertheless, general agreement concerning multimodal therapy’s value in cancer treatment remains absent. While some studies indicate this treatment significantly increases quality of life and duration of disease freedom, other studies have shown no significant benefits to choosing a multimodal path over single treatments.
Nevertheless, advocates of this treatment process claim the multistep approach perfectly addresses the nature of cancer development. Unlike single courses of treatment, multimodal therapy both attacks the cancer, and then incorporates treatments which prevent its spread. Examples of treatments that target the tumor are surgery and radiation, while chemotherapy is used after to kill remaining cells and prevent further metastasis, or spreading.
Furthermore, multimodal therapy may also present patients with less intense long term impacts. For example, undergoing extensive surgical removal of tumors was the predominant cancer treatment at one time. However, it was also extremely physically demanding, as it relied on the complete removal of the cancer in order to control the disease. However, when other treatments began to be introduced, doctors no longer had to rely on the extensive removal of the patient’s tumor to control the disease. Doctors could then carry out less drastic surgeries, relying on these later therapies to kill remaining cancer cells and not force patients to undergo procedures that could include long recovery periods and high risk of infection. Multimodal treatments have succeeded in saving the unnecessary removal of tissue, such as that of breast cancer patients.
Nevertheless, multimodal cancer therapy can still weigh heavily on patient physical and mental health. Some studies indicate that certain groups of patients, which generally include those too weak or old to undergo this process, actually have higher death rates due to this therapy. In addition, multimodal treatments can be expensive for patients, leading some to receive an insufficient degree of treatment due to the high cost. For many patients, clinical trials are the only realistic way to undergo multimodal therapy.