Chemotherapy drugs are strong drugs used to treat most types of cancer, including mesothelioma. Chemotherapy attacks cancer by targeting cells that divide quickly. For patients who are not candidates for surgery, chemotherapy is an important option to consider. Chemotherapy is not a cure for mesothelioma, but it can be helpful for alleviating symptoms, improving quality of life, and extending survival.
Mesothelioma patients usually receive chemotherapy systemically. Systemic chemotherapy travels the whole body through the bloodstream, for mesothelioma it is usually given in the form of an IV. In other cases, doctors will use intraoperative chemotherapy so that the drugs can have direct contact with the affected area during surgery.
Doctors determine the length and type of treatment that is best for a patient based on several factors including the type of mesothelioma, the disease stage, and patient health.
Chemotherapy can be used on its own, but it is often used in combination with other treatments, especially surgery.
- Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy - Systemic chemotherapy treatment used before surgery.
- Intraoperative Chemotherapy - Heated chemotherapy treatments are intraoperative, meaning that the doctors use chemotherapy during a surgical operation in order to put chemotherapy directly onto the affected area inside the body.
- Adjuvant Chemotherapy - Systemic chemotherapy treatment used after surgery.
Sometimes doctors use chemotherapy as an alternative to surgery for patients who are inoperable. However, if chemotherapy succeeds in reducing tumor size, doctors can revisit the possibility of surgery.
Alimta and cisplatin are the first-line treatment for mesothelioma. In other words, doctors try this combination on their patients first because it has proven to be the most effective combination of therapy.
- Alimta and cisplatin: this combination is the standard treatment for mesothelioma.
- Alimta and carboplatin: this combination is often used if the patient is sensitive to cisplatin.
- Navelbine and cisplatin: this combination is often used for patients with inoperable mesothelioma.
- Alimta and gemcitabine: this combination may be used if the patient is sensitive to cisplatin.
Many times, people are especially sensitive to one or more of these options. If the first line treatment doesn’t work, or if the patient is too sensitive to it, the doctor will try different combinations of chemotherapy to see which is most effective.
Other factors that contribute to drug choice are: the location of the tumor, the stage of mesothelioma, and the overall health of the patient.
Chemotherapy is designed to attack cells that divide quickly. Chemotherapy drugs are used to treat cancer but they also attack other healthy cells in the body that divide quickly. The most well-known chemotherapy side effect is hair loss. This happens because hair follicles divide more quickly than most cells in the body. Chemotherapy is known for having uncomfortable side effects so deciding to undergo it is a serious decision.
Common side effects:
- Hair loss
For most mesothelioma patients, surgery is their best chance at remission. Surgery is able to extend a patient’s survival time as well as improve their quality of life. Surgery is an important part of the treatment plan but combined with other …
Radiation therapy can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors, generally with less side effects than chemotherapy. Radiation is usually only used on pleural mesothelioma patients. For many inoperable or late stage pleural mesothelioma patients, …
Mesothelioma is a very rare cancer with only about 2,500 to 3,500 people being diagnosed each year. Because mesothelioma is rare, clinical trials are probably the best source for finding a cure or increasing the lifespan of a diagnosed individual. …