The Facts About Mesothelioma Chemotherapy

Although chemotherapy is considered an integral part of the multi-modality approach to treating mesothelioma (which uses multiple treatments to shrink tumors and alleviate symptoms), there are still a number of questions regarding its use.

Even in cases where a malignant mesothelioma tumor has been surgically removed, there is usually a recurrence in the area around it and the prognosis is poor. For that reason, treating patients with operable tumors involves the removal of the entire lung, followed by radiation to decrease the risk of local recurrence and mesothelioma chemotherapy to decrease the risk of the disease spreading to other parts of the body.

In some cases, chemotherapy drugs are applied directly to the area where the tumor was immediately following its removal. This form of treatment is controversial and is still being explored.

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One Mesothelioma Chemotherapy Combination Seems Most Effective

In the article titled Chemotherapy for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma, published online April 6, 2011 in Current Treatment Options in Oncology, author Linda Garland said:

“The standard frontline therapy for fit MPM (malignant pleural mesothelioma) patients remains an antifolate/platinum doublet based on large, well powered randomized clinical trials that showed not only a survival benefit for antifolate/platinum regimens but also improvements in quality of life and/or symptoms.”

The "doublet," a combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin, works by both preventing cancerous cells from dividing so new tumors can't grow and interfering with DNA formation so tumor cells undergo programmed cell death.

Mesothelioma Chemotherapy Used to Treat Relapse

A serious concern in treating malignant pleural mesothelioma is that recurrence of the disease occurs very soon after therapy. Research is continually being done to determine what the second line of therapy should be after the doublet combination of mesothelioma chemotherapy has been administered and the disease has returned. In some cases, other forms of chemotherapy are administered, including gemcitabine paired with cisplatin, and these have a chance of alleviating symptoms and extending the patient's lifespan.

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