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Surgery| is only suitable for a small number of people with mesothelioma. The aim of surgery is usually to help with symptoms |and to control the disease rather than to cure it.
Operations are carried out by experienced chest surgeons who are part of a multidisciplinary team experienced in the treatment of mesothelioma. Sometimes surgery is combined with radiotherapy| or chemotherapy| treatments.
There are two different types of surgery that may occasionally be used:
This involves removing the tumour and part, or all, of the pleura and the lung tissue close to it. It is used to help stop the build-up of fluid in the lung and to help with breathlessness and pain. Pleurectomy can also help a collapsed lung to reinflate with air, which will help reduce breathlessness. For some people it may be possible to have a pleurectomy using keyhole surgery. With this type of surgery, only small openings are made instead of one large cut (incision).
Pleurectomy is only suitable for some people with mesothelioma. There are other treatments| that don’t involve major surgery, which can be used to control the build-up of fluid in the lung, breathlessness and pain.
EPP involves a major operation and is rarely done today. During the operation, the surgeon attempts to remove all or most of the tumour and the tissues around it. It involves removing the pleura, diaphragm, the lining of the heart (pericardium) and the whole lung on the affected side.
As EPP involves such major surgery, it’s very risky. More than half of all people who have this type of surgery have complications, and there’s no evidence that it helps people live longer. For these reasons, EPP is not currently recommended as a treatment for mesothelioma.
Surgery is rarely used to treat peritoneal mesothelioma. The aim of surgery is to remove the tumour from the wall of the tummy (abdomen) and from nearby organs. This treatment is usually used to help relieve symptoms.
Content last reviewed: 1 December 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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