Chemotherapy is a common treatment for mesothelioma, as it is for many types of cancer. Chemotherapy agents act by attacking and killing cancer cells, thereby preventing them from dividing rapidly. No standard protocol for administering chemotherapy exists: Treatments may vary in number, the way the drugs are administered (orally or intravenously), and the drug or combination of drugs. While certain chemotherapy drugs are often associated with mesothelioma treatment (in particular Pemetrexed, Cisplatin, Carboplatin and Gemcitabine), new and promising drugs continue to be researched and tested.
To learn more about your chemotherapy and other treatment options and help you understand the many possible combinations, contact the Mesothelioma Options Help Center for a free information packet or speak to a nurse now.
Chemotherapy can be used before or after surgery, or in cases where surgery is not an option. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (before surgery) can reduce tumor size and make it easier to remove the cancer. Adjuvant chemotherapy (after surgery) will help lessen the chances of cancer spreading or returning. Palliative chemotherapy is often given in conjunction with other treatments and can alleviate symptoms as well as increase life expectancy.
Chemotherapy agents cannot always reliably distinguish between cancer cells and healthy ones, and as a result each drug has attendant side effects that may include hair loss, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, digestive problems and loss of appetite. While the side effects generally disappear once chemotherapy has stopped, it is important to consult your doctor about possible side effects and how to deal with them.
"While certain chemotherapy drugs are often associated with mesothelioma treatment, new and promising drugs continue to be researched and tested."
Though some chemotherapy agents are used as stand-alone treatments, clinical trials have shown that using two or more in combination often works better than a single agent. Many doctors are therefore now using two or more chemotherapy drugs simultaneously. Furthermore, new combinations and regimens are constantly being developed and tested. In addition, chemotherapy is often used in combination with surgery and radiation therapy to treat all types of mesothelioma. Studies have shown that combination therapy, while not providing a cure, does consistently extend survival rates.
In recent decades, more people are employing alternative treatments in conjunction with conventional methods, though the effectiveness of these treatments has not been the subject of much scientific research and remains anecdotal in nature.
Because the science of chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma is constantly evolving, you want to find an experienced specialist who is well-versed in the many treatment options and combinations that may be available. If you aren’t sure how to find the best doctor, the Mesothelioma Options Help Center can put you in touch with skilled and knowledgeable providers.