Mesothelioma Radiation: Understanding Its Benefits and Risks

A Comprehensive Guide to Mesothelioma Radiation Therapy

Greetings to our readers! Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, or heart. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral commonly used in construction, manufacturing, and shipbuilding industries. Once diagnosed, treatment options for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. In this article, we will focus on radiation therapy for mesothelioma and cover its benefits and risks in detail.

What Is Mesothelioma Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy or radiotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. For mesothelioma, radiation therapy is often used to relieve symptoms, slow down the progression of the disease, and improve the quality of life of the patient.

How Does Radiation Therapy Work?

Radiation therapy works by damaging the DNA of cancer cells, making them unable to divide and grow. The radiation can also damage normal cells, but they are usually able to repair themselves. Radiation therapy can be delivered externally or internally.

What Are the Different Types of Radiation Therapy?

The two main types of radiation therapy are external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and brachytherapy. EBRT involves delivering radiation from a machine outside the body, while brachytherapy involves placing a radioactive source inside the body near the cancer cells.

The Benefits of Mesothelioma Radiation Therapy

Mesothelioma radiation therapy can offer several benefits to patients, including:

Benefit Description
Shrinking tumors Radiation therapy can reduce the size of tumors, making them easier to remove during surgery.
Pain relief Radiation therapy can help relieve pain caused by mesothelioma, especially when it has spread to the bones.
Prolonging survival Radiation therapy can slow down the growth of mesothelioma cells and prolong the life of the patient.
Improving quality of life Radiation therapy can help alleviate symptoms of mesothelioma, such as shortness of breath and coughing, and improve the patient’s overall well-being.

The Risks of Mesothelioma Radiation Therapy

Mesothelioma radiation therapy also has some risks that patients should be aware of, including:

Risk Description
Damage to healthy tissue Radiation therapy can damage healthy tissue surrounding the tumor, leading to side effects such as skin irritation, fatigue, and nausea.
Development of secondary cancer Although rare, radiation therapy can increase the risk of developing a secondary cancer later in life.
Complications during treatment Some patients may experience complications during radiation therapy, such as infections or bleeding.

FAQs About Mesothelioma Radiation Therapy

1. How long does mesothelioma radiation therapy last?

The length of mesothelioma radiation therapy depends on the stage of the cancer, the patient’s overall health, and other factors. It can range from a few days to several weeks.

2. Is radiation therapy painful?

Radiation therapy itself is painless, but some patients may experience discomfort or pain due to the position of the body during treatment or the side effects of the radiation.

3. Can radiation therapy cure mesothelioma?

Radiation therapy is not a cure for mesothelioma, but it can help relieve symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.

4. How is radiation therapy delivered for mesothelioma?

Radiation therapy for mesothelioma can be delivered externally (EBRT) or internally (brachytherapy), depending on the location and stage of the cancer.

5. How is the radiation dose determined?

The radiation dose is determined by the radiation oncologist based on factors such as the stage of the cancer, the location of the tumor, and the patient’s overall health.

6. What are the side effects of radiation therapy?

The side effects of radiation therapy can include skin irritation, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and hair loss. These side effects are usually temporary and can be managed with medications or lifestyle changes.

7. Can I work during radiation therapy?

Many patients are able to continue working during radiation therapy, but it depends on their job and the side effects they experience.

8. Can I travel during radiation therapy?

Most patients can travel during radiation therapy, but they should discuss this with their healthcare team beforehand to ensure they receive proper care while away.

9. Will I lose my hair during radiation therapy?

Hair loss is not a common side effect of radiation therapy for mesothelioma, but it can happen if the radiation is delivered to the head or neck.

10. How often do I need to have radiation therapy?

The frequency of radiation therapy depends on the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health. It can range from daily to weekly treatments.

11. Can I eat or drink before radiation therapy?

Patients are usually allowed to eat and drink before radiation therapy, but they should follow their healthcare team’s instructions to ensure the best possible outcome.

12. What should I expect during radiation therapy?

During radiation therapy, patients lie on a table while a machine delivers high-energy radiation to the tumor. The procedure is painless, but some patients may feel discomfort or pain due to the position of the body during treatment.

13. How long does it take to recover from radiation therapy?

The recovery time from radiation therapy depends on the patient’s overall health and the side effects they experience. Most patients are able to resume their normal activities within a few weeks to a few months.


Mesothelioma radiation therapy can be an effective treatment option for patients with mesothelioma, offering benefits such as pain relief, tumor shrinkage, and improved quality of life. However, it also has some risks, including damage to healthy tissue and the development of secondary cancer. Patients should discuss the benefits and risks of radiation therapy with their healthcare team to make an informed decision about their treatment plan.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or has been exposed to asbestos, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the outcome of the disease. Remember, prevention is always better than cure!

Closing Disclaimer

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition. We do not endorse any specific treatments, products, or services mentioned in this article.