Chemotherapy for Mesothelioma….
Meaning literally “chemical therapy“, the term “chemotherapy” refers to the treatment of any disease with some type of drug or “chemical”. However, it is best known specifically as a way to treat cancer. It is often recommended for the treatment of mesothelioma, either on its own, before or after surgery, or in conjunction with radiation therapy. The use of multiple types of therapy is known as multimodal treatment.
In short, chemotherapy works to stop the multiplication of cancer cells by killing them. Cancer cells, unlike healthy cells, grow out of control and become tumors that affect the function of organs. Chemotherapy drugs are designed to stop this rampant growth.
For patients with pleural mesothelioma, some chemotherapy drugs work better than others, and there are more than 100 drugs currently on the market. Chemotherapy does not offer a cure for mesothelioma patients, but it can save time. Scientists continue to invent new treatments to combine with chemotherapy that increase the lifespan of people with pleural mesothelioma.
READ MORE : 10 Tips for being healthy
Chemotherapy can cause serious side effects, but it can prolong the survival of many people with pleural mesothelioma. It can be frightening to consider chemotherapy treatment. Fortunately, modern medicines and therapies help patients control symptoms better than in the past.
Chemotherapy and Pleural Mesothelioma
Chemotherapy drugs are often administered in pairs. Currently, the combination of chemotherapy most commonly used for cancer treatment of pleural mesothelioma is a combination of pemetrexed, also known by its trade name Alimta, and cisplatin. These are the only chemotherapy drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of pleural mesothelioma.
A phase III trial in 2003 found that approximately 41 percent of patients with pleural mesothelioma respond to the combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin. Experts point out that folate and vitamin B12 should be given when this combination is used because pemetrexed interferes with the normal metabolism of these vital nutrients. The toxicity is reduced with vitamin supplementation and the median survival for trial participants who received B12 and folic acid was 13.3 months.
Other chemotherapy drugs most commonly used in the treatment of pleural mesothelioma include:
Gemcitabine is often given as second-line chemotherapy or for patients who can not easily tolerate platinum-based medications such as cisplatin and carboplatin. A phase II trial of 2002 on the combination of gemcitabine and cisplatin reported a response rate of 33 percent, which means that the tumors were reduced to some degree but did not disappear.
Vinorelbine is another second-line chemotherapy drug that works for some people with pleural mesothelioma. A study conducted in 2009 with 63 people with recurrent pleural mesothelioma reported that vinorelbine reduced tumors in 16 percent of participants and overall survival was 9.6 months.
Carboplatin is a platinum-based drug such as cisplatin, but it tends to cause fewer side effects. A 2006 phase II trial of the combination of carboplatin and pemetrexed in 102 patients with pleural mesothelioma reported a complete response in two patients, meaning that their tumors disappeared completely. The tumors were reduced by 18.6 percent of the participants, and 47 percent did not have a new tumor growth after treatment. The median overall survival was 12.7 months.
Doxorubicin is another option for second-line chemotherapy drugs for recurrent pleural mesothelioma. In 2011, the results of a phase II trial with doxorubicin combined with valproic acid (an anticonvulsant that destroys mesothelioma cancer cells) were published in 45 patients with pleural mesothelioma. The tumors were reduced in 16 percent of the participants, and 36 percent did not have a new tumor growth. The mean survival was 16.7 months for 16 percent of the participants with tumor shrinkage.
Your doctor will determine which ones are best for you. If you do not tolerate a particular medication, a change can usually be made. The effectiveness of any of these medications will depend on a variety of factors including the stage of the cancer and your overall health. New chemotherapy drugs are constantly being developed and some are promising in the fight against pleural mesothelioma.