What are the Chemotherapy Side Effects for Mesothelioma Patients?
Chemotherapy is an important aspect of mesothelioma treatment, that can be accompanied by a variety of chemotherapy side effects. With the use of powerful drugs, chemotherapy kills cancer cells and reduces tumors. Pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma patients benefit from the use of chemotherapy, which is recognized as a potent treatment for alleviating mesothelioma symptoms and prolonging life expectancy. A mesotheliolma doctor will evaluate each patient’s medical history to assess the stage of their cancer and determine if chemotherapy treatment is a viable option.
Chemotherapy cannot cure this rare disease, but it can relieve symptoms and may reduce the risk of metastasis. To destroy cancerous tumors, chemotherapy drugs quickly divide cells. However, healthy cells, including hair and bone marrow cells, also can divide quickly, so those cells often are harmed by chemotherapy medications. For example, hair follicle cells are one of the fastest-growing in the body and they typically are damaged during chemotherapy treatment, leading many cancer patients to experience temporary hair loss.
Other possible chemotherapy side effects tied to treatment include lack of appetite, fatigue, and diarrhea, just to name a few. The difficulty these side effects create depends on a patient’s overall physical health, the type of drug being used, and overall response to the medication. After the first or second session, mesothelioma patients may begin to notice mild side effects, most of which can effectively be handled with proper rest, change in diet, and over-the–counter medications. After a full cycle of treatment has been completed, most patients will experience some form of side effects. Chemotherapy side effects may include:
Hair loss is the most common side effect for chemotherapy patients and the one that many mesothelioma victims worry about experiencing. Hair loss is not treatable, but many patients use wigs to cope with the emotional side effects of not having hair.
Blood Cell Side Effects
Chemotherapy drugs are powerful and can produce a drop in blood cell count. Red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets can be affected several days following initial treatment. White cells are most the commonly affected blood cells.
Diarrhea and Constipation
Constipation and diarrhea result from chemotherapy drugs aggravating the gastrointestinal tract. Patients should change their diets to help battle these side effects, in addition to increasing their fluid intake.
Nausea and vomiting occur for a majority of mesothelioma patients who undergo chemotherapy. This can be immediate, but will more than likely disappear after a few hours or weeks folloiwng administration of the drugs.
Fatigue is the most commonly reported side effect of chemotherapy treatment. Mesothelioma patients often report feeling extremely exhausted and tired. While this situation is very common, patients should never feel short of breath or dizzy and should speak to their doctor if more serious effects occur.
Mesothelioma patients may find it difficult to drink, eat, and swallow during treatment. This is a result of the chemotherapy drugs damaging cells inside the mouth.