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Mesothelioma Chemotherapy

Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer that affects thousands of new patients in the U.S. each year. The most common cause of mesothelioma is exposure to a dangerous mineral called asbestos. Although currently no known cure for mesothelioma exists, patients can find hope in proven treatments and clinical trials. One common type of treatment that could slow the progress of mesothelioma and keep cancer cells from growing back is chemotherapy.

What Is Chemotherapy for Mesothelioma?

Chemotherapy, often abbreviated to chemo, is a popular cancer treatment. It is a mixture of powerful chemicals administered to a patient in sessions to kill cancer cells in the body. Although the side effects of chemotherapy can be severe, doctors who recommend this treatment believe the outcome will outweigh these adverse effects. Chemotherapy is generally used in conjunction with other treatments, such as surgeries and anti-cancer drugs.

Doctors use chemotherapy in several ways to treat mesothelioma and improve patients’ quality of life. The most common use of chemotherapy for mesothelioma is in combination with surgery to remove most of the cancerous masses in the patient’s body. In most cases, a doctor will recommend chemotherapy prior to surgery to shrink the cancer (neoadjuvant therapy) as well as after the surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells left behind (adjuvant therapy).

If a doctor does not believe surgery will remove the cancer, he or she could recommend chemotherapy alone or with radiation to slow the spread of the cancer cells instead. Chemotherapy can treat mesothelioma by killing cancer cells to reduce the risk of new tumor growth. It can also shrink existing tumors. This could help a patient with mesothelioma live longer. Shrinking tumors in uncomfortable places, such as the lining of the lung, can also improve quality of life by reducing related symptoms of mesothelioma.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy for Mesothelioma

Chemotherapy is only as effective as the strength of the chemicals used. Unfortunately, powerful chemotherapy drugs can inflict serious side effects for a patient while they work to kill cancer cells. A patient with mesothelioma may notice many new symptoms connected to chemotherapy after receiving this treatment.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mouth sores
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • Infections
  • Bruising

Rounds of chemotherapy for mesothelioma generally take about three to four weeks at a time. Patients rest and recover in between rounds of chemotherapy, as the powerful drugs kill healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Doctors may administer chemotherapy drugs intravenously or directly into the space where the cancer is, such as intrapleurally for cancer in the chest cavity. They may also heat the drugs to increase effectiveness.

Chemo Success Rate for Mesothelioma

Although it can be difficult to cope with the aftereffects of chemotherapy for mesothelioma, it could improve your overall prognosis and quality of life. While chemotherapy does not have the power to cure mesothelioma, it could reduce symptoms as well as increase your survival rate. This is especially true when used in conjunction with radiation therapy, surgery and immunotherapy. Chemotherapy is most effective as part of a combined mesothelioma treatment plan. When used this way, chemotherapy has been successful in extending lifespans for patients with malignant mesothelioma.

Undergoing chemotherapy can be a long and challenging process, especially if you are already dealing with the symptoms of mesothelioma. However, countless mesothelioma survivors have success stories where they talk about chemotherapy allowing them to enjoy fuller, longer lives. Talk to your doctor about whether chemotherapy is a suitable part of your treatment plan. Then, contact a mesothelioma lawyer to discuss filing a lawsuit to recuperate the costs of chemotherapy and other expensive medical treatments. Someone may owe you compensation for causing your asbestos-related illness.

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