Mesothelioma Chemotherapy

Mesothelioma Chemotherapy
By Sandra Oertell, Guest Editor

When your doctor tells you that you have mesothelioma, chemotherapy will probably be suggested. Chemotherapy is the use of strong chemical substances for the purpose of killing cancer cells. Actually, these drugs, called anticancer drugs, try to prevent the cancer cells from multiplying, thus stopping the spread of the disease, and giving your body a chance to fight them.

Of course, this is dependent on the stage your cancer is in, your health, and your age. Chemotherapy for mesothelioma is not really being used to cure the disease. But it can slow the growth of cancer cells and keep it from spreading. Adjuvant chemotherapy is done to shrink the tumors prior to surgery or other types of treatment. However, it is suggested most often when surgery is not an option. When there are no really drastic results expected, chemo may still be used to relieve pain. In these cases it is called palliative.

Alimta/Cisplatin chemotherapy is a mesothelioma chemotherapy treatment that is being used at this time. This regimen was the first one that the FDA approved of for treating malignant pleural mesothelioma. For patients who are not candidates for surgical procedures, this treatment is considered to be the most effective. Alimta blocks the enzymes that copy DNA and aid cell division. It increases the success rate of the Cisplatin.

How is it administered? Alimta/Cisplatin chemotherapy consists of a ten minute intravenous infusion of the Alimta, after which the patient receives a two hour infusion of the Cisplatin. This outpatient treatment is repeated every three weeks. How many times you take malignant pleural mesothelioma chemotherapy depends entirely on how you respond to the drug…your side effects, shrinkage of the tumors, and whether or not it is stopping or slowing down the cancer.

For intraperitoneal mesothelioma, the drugs may be infused directly into the abdominal cavity through ports placed under the skin.

One way or the other, there will be periods of “rest” when the cycle of treatment is stopped to give the patient time to recover. A minimum cycle would be three infusions. If your body tolerates the chemo well, they may continue for as long as they are showing results.

The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, and extreme fatigue. Foods may begin to taste funny. Fever, constipation, diarrhea, numbness in the extremities, mouth and throat sores, and ringing in the ears may also occur. There are plenty of available medicines to help minimize these symptoms. Additionally, supplemental vitamins will be prescribed, as well as oral steroids that will help to stave off skin rashes and other symptoms. Ask every question you can before beginning mesothelioma chemotherapy.

Learn more about mesothelioma chemotherapy in 100 Questions and Answers About Mesothelioma

100 Questions and Answers About Mesothelioma

100 Questions and Answers About Mesothelioma

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