Chemotherapy Treatment for Mesothelioma
During chemotherapy, patients receive potent drugs that destroy cancer cells. To treat mesothelioma, these drugs may be given intravenously (through a vein), in pill form, or directly into the abdominal or chest cavities during surgery.
Video Summary: Registered Nurse Amy Fair discusses what to expect when getting mesothelioma chemotherapy and its side effects. View Transcript.
What do I need to know about radiation and chemotherapy?
If radiation chemotherapy is the treatment choice your oncologist will talk with you about the side effects of radiation and the side effects of chemotherapy. They will talk with you about the different blood tests that need to be done. They usually check your B9 and your B12. They will check your platelet counts, blood counts that tend to fall during treatment such as chemotherapy.
The role of chemotherapy is to prevent those cancer cells from replicating. It not only kills the bad cells but it kills the good cells too. You’ll see nausea and some hair loss. So with the toxicity of chemotherapy do come some side effects. There are many medications out there now that control nausea. There are many medications out there that can help stimulate your appetite during chemotherapy. It’s important to keep a good relationship with your oncologist and be knowledgeable going into the therapy about the possible side effects.
Mesothelioma chemotherapy (chemo) may be administered in two primary ways. Learn more about each below.
In this procedure, chemotherapy drugs are most commonly administered to the patient through a port or needle into a vein. The drug then enters the bloodstream, destroying cancer cells wherever they are in the body.
Mesothelioma doctors execute this treatment after performing surgery while the incision site is still open. The heated anti-cancer drug is released directly into the chest or abdominal cavity after the surgeon has removed all visible cancer. The chemotherapy then kills any remaining microscopic cancer cells that can’t be seen by the surgeon.
There are several different kinds of chemotherapy drugs for mesothelioma, including cisplatin, pemetrexed, and gemcitabine.
While some people do not respond well to these drugs, many mesothelioma patients have been able to beat the odds and live longer with the help of chemotherapy treatment.
Quick Facts About Mesothelioma Chemotherapy
- Chemotherapy treatment for pleural mesothelioma can reduce tumors in 40% of patients.
- Administering two chemotherapy drugs rather than just one results in longer survival rates.
- Chemotherapy after surgery results in improved survival rates.
- Chemotherapy is given in cycles that last 2-3 weeks with a rest period in between.