Cases of long-term survival with mesothelioma are reported in medical literature, as well as a few cases of spontaneous remission. Long-term survival is more common than spontaneous remission. Only a few cases of spontaneous remission are reported in medical literature (see below, with citations). Some people survive more than a decade with mesothelioma, and recent research indicates some of them share genetic factors that appear to improve their survival. A rare few live for decades with mesothelioma and eventually die of another disease. For example, the esteemed evolutionary biologist Steven A. Gould lived for 20 years with peritoneal mesothelioma before dying of another unrelated condition. Spontaneous remission is less common, but a few cases are documented. For example, a 73-year-old Japanese man with pleural mesothelioma underwent surgery to remove as much cancer as possible. After surgery, tumors grew back, which is very common. The patient tried complementary therapies involving a mushroom extract (Agaricus blazei Murill Kyowa) and parasympathetic nerve stimulation, a type of acupuncture. His symptoms improved and his tumors began to shrink. Within 4 months, the tumor had completely disappeared. For 29 months the patient was in total remission. Then, a CT scan showed slow tumor growth. The patient continued his complementary therapies and no further follow-up information is available. Other cases of spontaneous remission of mesothelioma include: A 58-year-old male from the United Kingdom was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma and his cancer spontaneously disappeared without any treatment. In the 12 years the patient was followed, only one recurrence developed at year six in the chest wall and the tumor was removed surgically. A significant natural immune response was documented with the primary tumor and the recurrence. A 61-year-old woman from Australia was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma and within months her cancer went into spontaneous remission without treatment. Within six months she was disease-free. At five-year follow-up, she was alive without a single recurrence. A 54-year-old Australian woman with pleural mesothelioma experienced spontaneous remission for 3 months. The cancer came back and she lived for 20 months. Originally Answered: What are the treatment options for mesothelioma (cancer)? Traditional Treatments and Therapies Surgery Physical Removal of the Cancer Surgery involves the physical removal of the cancer or other operative treatment. There are several surgeries available for patients, some of which are used palliatively to treat symptoms and others of which are considered radical surgery, such as removal of one of the lungs, with curative intent. The physician will decide the nature and type of surgery to be performed based on his or her overall treatment strategy and the information determined during the patient’s workup. The most common radical surgeries for mesothelioma include: Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP), during which the surgeon removes the patient’s lung, the affected tissue, and surrounding lymph nodes Pleurectomy Decortication (P/D), during which the surgeon removes the pleural tissue lining the lung and chest cavity, as well as the tissue lining the diaphragm and the mediastinum Cytoreduction or debulking surgery, during which the surgeon removes any signs of cancer from the peritoneal/abdominal cavity and the patient receives heated interoperative chemotherapy at the same time Chemotherapy Using Drugs to Fight the Cancer Chemotherapy uses drugs and other chemicals to kill cancer cells. Treatment with chemotherapy is considered “systemic treatment” because drugs are introduced via the bloodstream and kill cancer cells throughout the body. The most common chemotherapy drugs for mesothelioma are pemetrexed and a combination of gemcitabine and cisplatin. However, your doctor may recommend a variety of combinations of other chemotherapy drugs. Chemotherapy comes with harsh side effects: Flu-like symptoms Fever Fatigue Nausea and vomiting Constipation Poor appetite Shortness of breath Chest pain Taste changes Hair loss Weakness Blood test abnormalities Low white blood cell count Low red blood cell count Radiation Therapy Using Radiation to Kill Cancer Cells Radiation therapy uses ionizing radiation to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation can be used as part of a multimodal treatment protocol, or it can be used in a palliative manner to reduce the pain associated with the disease. Recent advances in understanding mesothelioma’s complex biology have led to improvements in the effectiveness of the standard therapies. Those advances are reflected in an increase in median survival times reported by some patients. Much more research needs to be done before the medical community can say it has turned a corner in the treatment of mesothelioma. Even so, the increase in survival times in patients treated with an effective multimodal protocol points to a new level of hope for mesothelioma patients. Palliative Procedures Since there is no cure for malignant mesothelioma, many of the treatment options are considered palliative, aimed at making the patient more comfortable by easing symptoms. Palliative procedures your doctor may consider include: Pleurodesis, which is used to seal the pleural space so fluid cannot keep building up around the lungs Pleurocentesis or thoracentesis, which is used to remove fluid buildup in the chest cavity Paracentesis, which is used to remove ascetic fluid from the abdominal cavity Pericardiocentesis, which is used to remove fluid buildup from the pericardial sac around the heart Your doctor will devise a treatment plan based on your general health and the stage of your disease. (Some people are not healthy enough for surgery, for example.) You should also ask about alternative treatments such as immunotherapy and clinical trials.