In addition to surgery and radiation, chemotherapy is one of the most popular forms of treatment for those facing cancer, including mesothelioma. Chemotherapy, or chemical therapy, involves the use of a certain number of medications to kill cancer cells and prevent them from multiplying. There are a number of different types of chemotherapy drugs and treatments, all of which depend upon the stage of the cancer and its location.
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How Chemotherapy Treats Mesothelioma
Chemotherapy may be used to treat mesothelioma in two different ways, either method of which may be used together with surgery and/or radiation therapy. The two different methods of chemotherapy are as follows:
- Systemic chemotherapy – this method can either be administered via intravenous injection or as a pill. How it works is that it travels throughout the bloodstream and reaches the entire body. While effective, it is associated with the most side effects because while it kills cancer cells, it also kills other fast growing cells such as in the hair and blood. This can lead to hair loss, low blood counts, nausea, and vomiting.
- Intraoperative chemotherapy – this type of chemotherapy is directly administered to the area where tumors are located, which carries with it the least amount of side effects.
First and Second-line Chemotherapy Treatments
Chemotherapy is often discussed as being first and second-line (sometimes even third-line) treatments. These refer to those that are given first, second, and third, based upon their respective level of effectiveness.
Mesothelioma chemotherapy drugs
There are a number of different chemotherapy drugs that are used to treat mesothelioma. The specific recommended drug varies with the patient’s specific case. In other words, oncologists will choose the drug or combination of drugs they feel will most benefit their patient while also taking into consideration the associated side effects and other important issues. Altogether, the chemotherapy drugs typically used to treat mesothelioma are as follows:
- Pemetrexed (Alimta®) – this is the most widely used drug to treat mesothelioma, which is often given in conjunction with another drug, Cisplatin. This is an injected drug, wherein patients are often given steroid medications as well as certain supplements such as vitamins B9 and B12 to prevent and/or alleviate side effects.
- Cisplatin – this is a platinum-based drug that is administered intravenously. Along with Pemetrexed, it is one of the more common chemotherapy drugs used to treat mesothelioma. In many cases, oncologists will use this drug to treat tumors that cannot be removed by surgery (i.e., the disease is too advanced or tumors are located in a position that are too dangerous to remove).
- Carboplatin – also a platinum-based drug, this drug was actually derived from Cisplatin back in the 1980s and typically carries with it less side effects that other drugs. However, it can inhibit the ability for the body to produce blood cells, which can result in fatigue and infection.
- Gemcitabine (Gemzar®) – this chemotherapy drug is often administered in conjunction with Carboplatin and is used to treat cancers of the lung, ovaries, and bladder. During clinical trials, the drug has been shown to be effective, especially as a second-line treatment.
- Ranpirnase (Onconase®) – this is an enzyme that kills mesothelioma cells by breaking down the RNA of this disease. This drug is unique in that it does not affect health cells, significantly reducing the side effects associated with other chemotherapy treatments.
- Vinorelbine (Navelbine®) – this drug is typically used to treat non-small-lung cancer, or NSCLC, and has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of mesothelioma by triggering the death of cancer cells.
Stern Law, PLLC – Our Lawyers are Compassionate, Dedicated & Skilled Advocates
At Stern Law, PLLC, we know how a mesothelioma diagnosis can uproot your life, and as such, we want to help you secure you and your family’s current and financial future. When you meet with one of our seasoned asbestos exposure lawyers, we take the time you deserve to review your case, determine the sources of your exposure, and develop a plan of legal action to fight for the compensation you need. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 to schedule your free consultation. We are available now to review your case.