Chemotherapy as Mesothelioma Treatment

Chemotherapy is one of the main treatments administered to mesothelioma patients. There are two ways chemotherapy is used to treat mesothelioma.

In systemic therapy, chemotherapy is injected into the patient’s vein. From there, it travels through the body to reach and kill cancer cells, wherever they are.

The other way chemotherapy is administered to mesothelioma patients is that it is placed directly into the body cavity where the cancer is located, usually into the lungs or the abdomen. While this chemotherapy is still absorbed into the bloodstream, most of the drugs go directly to the location of the cancer cells. This approach enables doctors to give a higher dosage of chemotherapy drugs with reduced risk of side effects to other areas of the body.

If a patient’s mesothelioma can be surgically treated, chemotherapy may be administered before surgery to shrink the cancer and decrease the risk of its spreading. This is called neoadjuvant therapy. In adjuvant therapy, chemotherapy is given after surgery to kill cancer cells that were left behind.

In some cases, chemotherapy is the main treatment for mesothelioma patients, in the hopes that it will slow the progression of the disease.

Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles, with a rest period to allow the body to recover. A cycle generally lasts 3 to 4 weeks. Common chemotherapy drugs used to treat mesothelioma include:

While chemotherapy drugs attack cancer cells, they can also kill healthy cells, which is the cause of chemotherapy side effects. Side effects may include:

  • · Hair loss
  • · Diarrhea
  • · Mouth sores
  • · Loss of appetite
  • · Nausea
  • · Vomiting
  • · Increased vulnerability to infections
  • · Bruising
  • · Fatigue

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