Treatment that is most commonly used with all forms of cancer is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy involves specific drug or combination of drugs designed to kill cancer cells. Currently, there are more than 100 chemotherapy drugs on the market. This therapy is also indicated in treatment of mesothelioma cancer and there are several chemo drugs used in this case. Chemotherapy for mesothelioma can be used in combination with radiation therapy but it may be also given before or after mesothelioma surgery. Since chemotherapy entails many serious side effects, patients with mesothelioma cancer should take into account this negative side of the treatment before they agree to have it. Mesothelioma cancer cannot be cured but chemotherapy can provide symptom relief, shrink the tumor size and improve sufferer’s quality of life.
Undergoing Mesothelioma Chemotherapy
Chemotherapeutic drug can be given either in the form of a pill or intravenously. Chemotherapy can be administered “systemically” meaning that a chemo drug is carried through the blood stream and reaches the entire body. This type of chemotherapy is associated with the most adverse effects since it not only kills cancer cells but any healthy fast growing cells like hair and blood cells. Because of that, most people who receive “systemic” chemotherapy experience hair loss and decrease in red or white blood cell count. On the other hand, there is intrapleural chemotherapy where the drug is injected directly into the site of the primary tumor. Intrapleural chemotherapy causes fewer side effects. This type of chemotherapy is commonly used in patients with mesothelioma cancer, in which case lining of the lung called the pleura is targeted. This form of chemotherapy treatment can be used also in patients with peritoneal mesothelioma.
Chemotherapy Drugs Used for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma can be treated with variety of chemotherapy drugs. Today, most frequently and, as it seems, with the most successfully used drug is Alimta. This chemo drug is often used in combination with Cisplatin and it may prolong the patient’s life for several months. Alimta is a systemic drug that is administered intravenously. Treatment with Alimta is given once in 21 days. To reduce the risk of side effects related to the drug, patients should take folic acid and vitamin B12. To prevent side effects related to the skin, patients have to receive corticosteroids. Apart from Alimta, there are other chemotherapeutic drugs used in treatment of mesothelioma cancer. They include carboplatin, gemcitabine, vinorelbine, mitomycin, raltitrexed, onconase, and Navelbine.
Side Effects of Mesothelioma Chemotherapy
Mesothelioma chemotherapy most commonly causes following side effects:
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Susceptibility to infections
- Bleeding or bruising