Mesothelioma: Symptom & Pain Management

All people with mesothelioma, regardless of which type it is, will need regular follow-up care to manage the disease and its side effects. For many people, controlling symptoms becomes as important as treating the disease itself.

Some people with mesothelioma will need specialized treatment to help manage pain and other symptoms. Our interdisciplinary Palliative Medicine Service will work with you to ensure that your symptoms are treated appropriately and effectively.

Managing Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma

For people with pleural mesothelioma, one of the first symptoms may be shortness of breath due to build up of fluid around the lung (called a pleural effusion). Your doctor may perform a procedure called thoracentesis to withdraw the fluid.

If fluid builds back up in your chest, a surgeon may perform another procedure called pleurodesis, which involves placing a small amount of talc or another substance in the pleura to seal them and reduce the buildup of fluid around the lung.

If you are suffering from shortness of breath or fatigue, your doctor or nurse may be able to suggest ways to minimize or control these symptoms. Our Resources for Life After Cancer program offers a monthly workshop called Breathing Easier, which is designed in part to give survivors of thoracic cancers practical techniques to manage changes in stamina.

You will also learn about what to expect during your recovery from treatment and techniques for stress reduction and anxiety control.

Managing Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

The most commonly used treatment for symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma is paracentesis, in which fluid is drained from the abdomen using a local anesthetic to relieve abdominal distension (bloating) and any shortness of breath you may be experiencing.

Surgery can also help to lessen pain and discomfort in some cases. If the bowel becomes blocked, for example, our surgeons can remove that section of the intestine. If there are many sections of the intestine that are blocked, however, surgery may not be feasible, and the best way to provide you relief may be to place a tube into the stomach to remove fluid and air from the intestine.