Mesothelioma is a very difficult disease to treat. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the thin membrane protecting several of the bodies’ most important organs such as lung, heart, and abdomen. Treatment for this disease includes chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. The standard of care for advanced mesothelioma is chemotherapy with pemetrexed and cisplatin and that yields about of somewhere between 20 to 40 percent response rate and median survival about a year. It has been proven that mesothelioma cancer is caused by asbestos exposure.
The standard treatment for mesothelioma chemotherapy is also known as systematic therapy is either administered by injection IV drop port or oral medication. The goal of mesothelioma chemotherapy is to kill all cancer cells that are in the body. Although it is not curative mesothelioma chemotherapy is accomplished several things. Kill mesothelioma cells, prevent cancerous cells from spreading, and make other treatments more effective such as surgery shrink tumors, relieve pain and help increase the survival rate and improve the patient’s quality of life.
There are four types of chemotherapy:
- Neoadjuvant therapy: This can improve the result by reducing the size of the tumor which in turn increases the chances of complete tumor removal after surgery.
- Radiation therapy: This is used in all patients with mesothelioma, but is especially beneficial to patients that have advanced stages of cancer.
- Adjuvant therapy: Usually given after primary cancer treatment in order to prevent cancer from returning. This is often done immediately after surgery as to target and kill all micro cancerous cells left behind.
- Intraoperative therapy: This chemotherapy is administered while the patient is in surgery. The doctor will apply a high dose of chemotherapy directly to the tumors and there are far fewer side effects this way.
Possible side effects from chemotherapy are:
- Hair loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mouth sores
15 to 20 percent patient treated with mesothelioma chemotherapy report that they felt depressed both during and after the treatment.
The drugs that offered to people who have malignant mesothelioma, the two drugs that are the standard of care are cisplatin and pemetrexed. The pemetrexed and cisplatin are most commonly prescribed and FDA approved regimen for mesothelioma. These chemo agents are given every week intravenously, they are given together because one enhances the others for their optimal effect.