Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. It’s commonly used in the treatment of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart, or testicles.
Here’s how chemotherapy is used in treating mesothelioma:
- Primary Treatment: In some cases, chemotherapy is used as the primary treatment. It can be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy) to shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove surgically. Alternatively, it may be given after surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy) to kill any remaining cancer cells.
- Palliative Treatment: For advanced or metastatic mesothelioma, chemotherapy can help control symptoms, shrink tumors, and slow the progression of the disease. This is often referred to as palliative chemotherapy and aims to improve the patient’s quality of life.
- Drug Combinations: Chemotherapy drugs are often used in combination to enhance their effectiveness. Common drugs used for mesothelioma include pemetrexed and cisplatin or carboplatin. These drugs work by interfering with the cancer cells’ ability to divide and grow.
- Delivery Methods: Chemotherapy can be given orally in pill form or administered intravenously through a vein. The method of administration depends on the specific drugs used and the individual patient’s condition.
- Side Effects: Chemotherapy drugs target rapidly dividing cells, which include both cancer cells and some healthy cells. This is why side effects such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, and decreased blood cell counts are common during treatment. Supportive care medications and therapies can help manage these side effects.
- Response and Follow-Up: The effectiveness of chemotherapy varies from person to person. Some individuals respond well to treatment and experience shrinkage of tumors or slowed progression of the disease. Regular follow-ups and imaging scans are typically done to monitor the response to chemotherapy.
It’s important to note that while chemotherapy can be effective in treating mesothelioma, it is often used in combination with other treatments such as surgery and radiation therapy for the best possible outcome. Treatment plans are tailored to each patient’s specific situation and may vary based on factors such as the stage of the cancer, overall health, and individual preferences.
Always consult with healthcare professionals specializing in oncology for the most appropriate and personalized treatment options.