A mesothelioma diagnosis is often followed by typical cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. These treatments can be accompanied by harsh side effects such as hair loss, nausea, fatigue, pain and more. The reason is because chemotherapy and radiation attack not only the cancer cells, but the healthy cells, too.

New advances in cancer treatment show “targeted” cancer therapies could offer an alternative option for cancer patients. These treatments target only the harmful cancer cells by attacking the tissue environment that contributes to the cancer’s growth and survival.

Researcher Jonathan Lovell of the State University of New York at Buffalo, is working on a targeted drug delivery system for cancer that uses lasers and light activated drugs. He developed nano-sized spherical pods – so small, they are 1/1000 the diameter of a human hair. Lovell fills the pods with anti-cancer drugs and injects them into the body where they safely circulate.

The pods can be activated to release the anti-cancer drugs when Lovell shines a red laser on the tumor. The light triggers the pods to open. When the laser is turned off, the pods close. A red laser is used because red light penetrates human tissue better than other colors.

Additionally, the pods have the ability to collect proteins and hormones from the tumor’s environment. This essentially provides a small biopsy that doctors can analyze to improve the treatment even further.

While targeted cancer therapies may offer less severe side effects, they still do have common side effects which include diarrhea, liver problems such as hepatitis and elevated liver enzymes, skin problems, problems with blood clotting and would healing, high blood pressure and gastrointestinal perforation, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Current mesothelioma treatments include chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy, surgery or clinical trials. There is no cure for mesothelioma at this time. However, progress in cancer treatments – such as Lovell’s research – may lead to more targeted treatments with less severe side effects.

Learn more about mesothelioma treatments from the asbestos attorneys at Simmons Hanly Conroy now.