Mesothelioma treatment uses a combination of chemotherapy drugs. Those most often used in combination include:
- Alimta (Pemetrexed): According to Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology, pemetrexed is the only chemotherapy drug approved by the FDA to treat patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. It is an antimetabolite and is most effective when combined with other forms of treatment.
- Cisplatin: Cisplatin is used to treat a wide variety of cancers and is administered via injection. This chemotherapy drug has the most significant side effects but is also most effective when paired with drugs like pemetrexed, according to Medicine (Baltimore).
- Avastin (Bevacizumab): Bevacizumab stimulates the development of new blood vessels and responds to mesothelioma’s symptoms more so than its source, per Cancer Control: Journal of the Moffitt Cancer Center.
Pemetrexed and cisplatin are the most common types of chemotherapy used for mesothelioma when the mesothelioma is operable. If the cancer is inoperable, many doctors may recommend treatment with bevacizumab as well as pemetrexed and cisplatin. Other treatments may include:
Treatments will vary based on an individual’s experience with mesothelioma and medical history. Pleural mesothelioma most often develops in people who have been exposed to asbestos through professional or recreational means. When a person inhales asbestos, the material can irritate the lungs and air passages to cause irritation, scarring, and the development of tumors throughout the chest cavity.
How Chemotherapy Treats Mesothelioma
Chemotherapy helps patients overcome the worst of mesothelioma by:
- Limiting the growth of tumors: Cisplatin and Alimta both kill off the cancer cells that encourage tumors to grow within a patient’s body. In doing so, they give medical professionals more time to explore treatment options a patient and allow the patient to live longer.
- Reducing a patient’s symptoms: Chemotherapy will also limit the chest pain and breathing difficulty that mesothelioma causes.
Chemotherapy does not cure a patient of mesothelioma. It is through a combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery that medical professionals strive to make a patient cancer-free.
Administration of Chemo for Mesothelioma
According to the American Cancer Society, mesothelioma chemotherapy treatments are administered via two means:
- Systemic chemotherapy – systemic chemotherapy delivers a combination of chemotherapy drugs to a patient via injection. This allows the chemotherapy to travel throughout a patient’s body, where it can better come into contact with cancerous cells that have spread beyond the chest cavity. Systemic chemotherapy generates more side effects in a patient that other forms of chemotherapy, but it is also the most common form of treatment and less invasive than chemotherapy delivered during surgery.
- Intrapleural chemotherapy – if medical professionals can operate on a person’s mesothelioma, then it will be possible to localize the delivery of chemotherapy during a patient’s surgery. Intrapleural chemotherapy impacts less of the body than systemic chemotherapy, reducing a patient’s risk of side effects while in recovery. “Intrapleural” means the medicine goes into the chest, but injections in the abdomen are called “intraperitoneal” chemotherapy.
If a person has operable mesothelioma, she can discuss her preferred or most effective form of chemotherapy with a medical professional. However, there are times when it is not possible to operate on mesothelioma. In these circumstances, a patient’s options will consist of a medically approved combination of radiation therapy and systemic chemotherapy.
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The Side Effects of Mesothelioma Chemotherapy
A person’s experience with mesothelioma chemotherapy varies based on several individual factors. Side effects that may be attributed to chemotherapy may also be effects of mesothelioma’s progression. The most telling side effects include:
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Tingling in the hands and feet
Patients undergoing chemotherapy are also more prone to depression and anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic. A person’s memory may be impacted, as may concentration and the ability to multi-task. It is also possible that a person undergoing mesothelioma chemotherapy may develop one of many sleep disorders.
After chemotherapy stops, many of these side effects may subside, either due to the lack of exposure or due to changes in a person’s lifestyle. Some may experience side effects for prolonged period of time even after they stop the treatment.
What You Should Expect from Chemotherapy
When receiving treatment for mesothelioma, medical professionals determine which appropriate combination of chemotherapy drugs suits you best based on a series of preliminary tests. These tests will include blood work, dental visits, and a patient’s medical history. It is recommended that patients preparing for treatment eat light meals and get plenty of rest both before and after their treatment.
While administration periods will again vary based on the individual, most medical professionals recommend that a patient receive chemotherapy on a three-week cycle. Mesothelioma caused by negligent asbestos exposure can lead to expensive medical bills, along with physical and emotional pain, and victims should not go through this ordeal alone.
The team with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm does not shy away from tough cases. You do not need to let your or a loved one’s exposure to asbestos go unanswered. For more information on the potential compensation you are owed, you can reach out to the representatives at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm: (800) 307-3113
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