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Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma Patients: Value and Timing

Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma Patients: Value and TimingThe value and safety of radiation therapy for mesothelioma patients are promising.

Oncologists from the Fox Chase Cancer Center released new data on radiotherapy. What are the options for radiation therapy? What is the best timing? Who should receive it?

This guide shows the role of radiotherapy in the treatment of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Radiosensitivity and Treatment Combinations

Mesothelioma tumors are radiosensitive. This means they are sensitive to X-rays and radiant energy forms. In other words, mesothelioma tumors are treatable with radiation therapy.

The use of a multi-modality treatment has also shown potential for mesothelioma patients. A tri-modality treatment uses three different treatment types. The combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy is most common.

Understanding Timing and Adverse Effects

There are many options with radiation therapy for mesothelioma patients.

These options include before or after surgery. Another option is to focus radiotherapy on the tumor site. Radiotherapy for nonoperative treatment of mesothelioma is one final option.

Radiation therapy has been effective in reducing local tumor recurrence. Yet the outlook for mesothelioma patients remains poor.

There are many possible adverse effects of radiation therapy for mesothelioma patients. Oncologists can limit lung dosages of high radiation to lower the risk of toxicity. And recent technical advances have decreased radiation dosages. Radiotherapy appears to be safe with tolerable side effects.

Timing of Radiotherapy by Tumor Type

Post-surgery radiotherapy reduced mesothelioma local recurrence. It also had the added benefit of increased patient survival.

Results were mixed for pre-surgery radiation therapy for mesothelioma patients. Oncologists need to do further research. There was also no encouraging data on radiation therapy for surgery-site tumors.

Radiotherapy was well-suited for patients with epithelioid tumors. And not those with the sarcomatoid subtype tumor.

Research in the area of tumor differences is new. But the factors of different tumor subtypes are important for treatment decisions.

Post-Surgical Radiotherapy as Useful Treatment Option

Post-surgery radiotherapy reduced mesothelioma local recurrence. It increased mesothelioma patient survival. More favorable results were also achieved for the epithelioid subtype.

Sameera Kumar, MD, of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Temple University states, “Radiotherapy may provide benefits for nonoperative management in patients that are poor surgical candidates.”

Six randomized controlled trials concluded that preventative radiotherapy does not reduce tumor recurrence.

Radiation therapy for mesothelioma is a useful option. Useful in combination with surgery and for patients with unresectable tumors.


Saldanha, G., & Kumar, S. (2021). Role of radiation treatment in multimodality treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma: A narrative review. AME Surgical Journal, 1(0). https://doi.org/10.21037/asj-21-26

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