Chemotherapy for Mesothelioma

What is Mesothelioma Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a treatment option for cancer patients. There are many types of chemotherapy drugs that are used to kill cancer cells, and some are more effective than others. This treatment was developed in the 1940s and scientists have since improved these medications. Chemotherapy combined with radiation is a common treatment offered to mesothelioma patients.

This treatment tends to scare many patients because of the negative side effects that come with using the medication. The chemotherapy drugs can make you feel sick and nauseous in addition to possibly causing you to lose hair and feel very weak. Even though these are not pleasant things to experience, the benefits that occur far outweigh the negative side effects.

How Do You Treat Mesothelioma with Chemotherapy?

Systemic Chemotherapy is administered intravenously or by pill. This type of therapy uses the blood stream to deliver medication throughout the body. The drugs kill fast-growing cells such as mesothelioma, but also eliminate fast-growing cells such as blood cells and hair cells. This is why patients tend to lose their hair and have weakened immune systems, which results from a lack of white and red blood cells.

Intrapleural Chemotherapy is administered through a catheter in the chest area. This type of therapy tends to have fewer side effects and targets the tumor specifically.

What are the Different Types?

The development of chemotherapy drugs to treat different types of cancer has resulted in nearly 100 different types of chemotherapy drugs being created. Below is a list of different types used to treat mesothelioma.

  • Alimta®
  • Cisplatin
  • Carboplatin
  • Gemcitabine
  • Onconase
  • Navelbine

What are the Different Treatments and Delivery Methods?

The multimodal therapy treatment method is when chemotherapy and radiation are used together to treat mesothelioma patients.

Neoadjuvant is a treatment method used to shrink the tumor size prior to surgery in order to make the procedure easier and increase the chances of success.

Intraoperative is a treatment method used during surgery where surgeons can administer higher dosages of chemotherapy directly on the tumor.

Adjuvant is a treatment method used post-surgery in an attempt to kill the remaining mesothelioma cancer cells.

Chemotherapy is delivered to mesothelioma patients in a number of different ways. There are a number of factors that determine the method by which patients can receive treatment. These factors are the type of mesothelioma, stage of mesothelioma, patient’s age, location of the mesothelioma and the patient’s overall health.

Intravenous Delivery is the most popular delivery method. Patients can visit their doctor’s office, where a staff member can administer the drug through an intravenous (IV) drip.

Oral Delivery is a delivery method that is very convenient, but only available in clinical trials.

Chemotherapy Port is a delivery method where the mesothelioma patient has a port placed in their body to help with delivering the medication effectively, easily and quickly.

Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is unlike traditional chemotherapy, yet it has vastly improved the life expectancy for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma and other abdominal cancers.


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