Surgery for pleural mesothelioma

Surgery is only suitable for some people with pleural mesothelioma. The aim of surgery is to help with symptoms and to control the disease rather than to cure it. The operation will be done by a specialist chest surgeon who is experienced in the treatment of mesothelioma. An operation may be carried out as part of a clinical trial.

Pleurectomy/decortication (PD)

A pleurectomy/decortication involves removing only the tumour and pleura. The lung tissue is not removed.

Extended pleurectomy/decortication (EPD)

As well as removing the tumour and pleura, the surgeon will also remove the covering of the heart (pericardium) and the muscle between the lung and the abdomen (diaphragm).

Partial pleurectomy

A partial pleurectomy is occasionally used to help stop fluid building up in the lung. This can help reduce breathlessness and pain. It can also help a collapsed lung to reinflate with air, which will help reduce breathlessness. It may be possible to have a partial pleurectomy using keyhole surgery. With this type of surgery, only small openings are made instead of one large cut (incision).

If surgery is a suitable treatment for you, your doctor will tell you more about what to expect.

Back to Surgery explained

Who might I meet?

A team of specialists will plan your surgery. This will include a surgeon who specialises in your type of cancer.