The most common chemotherapy drug used to treat mesothelioma (and the first to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration), Alimta is the brand name for the drug pemetrexid. Chemotherapy can be used before or after surgery, or in cases where surgery is not an option, as a palliative measure to relieve symptoms.
Alimta is in a class of medications called antifolate antineoplastic agents which work by inhibiting enzymes that the cancer cells use to proliferate, thereby blocking the ability of the cancer to spread. Primarily used to treat pleural mesothelioma, Alimta is given by injection and is usually administered once every 21 days.
Like most chemotherapy drugs, Alimta is usually used in combination with other chemo agents, especially Cisplatin. Studies have shown that combinations of chemo drugs tend to work better than individual drugs alone; in one clinical trial, for example, patients treated with Alimta in combination with cisplatin were shown to survive about three months longer than the patients who received only Cisplatin.
Chemotherapy is one of several treatments for mesothelioma that your doctor may choose depending on many factors, and the process of figuring out which options are best for you can be both confusing and stressful. To learn more about how the process works, we offer you the opportunity to speak with a qualified nurse today.
Before Alimta is prescribed, your doctor will ask about your medical history, any allergies to prescription drugs you may have and other information that will be useful. Blood tests will also be taken before and during treatment to ensure that you’re getting the optimal dosage.
As with any chemotherapy drug, Alimta can have multiple side effects, although it is often hard to pinpoint whether the drug or the cancer itself causes them. The most common side effects of Alimta include stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, a drop in white blood cell count (which increases the risk of infection), anemia, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, mouth, throat, or lip sores, loss of appetite, and rash. Alimta can also be associated with mood changes and depression.
To limit or alleviate these side effects, your doctor may prescribe a vitamin regimen or a corticosteroid.
Choosing which chemotherapy regimen is right for you is a crucial decision that you will make with your health care team, so it’s important to find an experienced mesothelioma doctor who understands the full range of options. Contact the Mesothelioma Options Help Center today for more information on your treatment options and how we can advocate on your behalf.