Mesothelioma Treatments

Mesothelioma and Cisplatin

There are a number of options available to treat mesothelioma with chemotherapy. Each is chemically different and is structured in a specific way. Your doctor will help you determine which one is right for you. Your age and the progression and type of your disease are likely to play key roles in the decision-making process.

With over 100 chemotherapy drugs on the market, only a few are considered to be useful against mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a very aggressive, complex disease, so two or more chemotherapy drugs may be used at the same time. Common options include alimta, cisplatin, carboplatin, onconase, gemcitabine, and nayelbine. Alimta is the only drug that is currently FDA-approved for mesothelioma, though many doctors have found success employing the others listed here.

Cisplatin and Mesothelioma

When Cisplatin was first introduced, doctors found that it did not work well for mesothelioma. The drug was ineffective against the disease. In 2005, however, a new chemotherapy drug called Alimta was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Alimta and Cisplatin together have become one of the most common and effective combinations of chemotherapy drugs used to fight mesothelioma. This combination is especially useful for pleural mesothelioma patients whose cancer is inoperable.

Cisplatin and Alimta chemotherapy is generally administered every three weeks. Treatment is generally on an outpatient basis at a hospital or cancer clinic. The dose of Alimta is administered first and is generally completed in 10 to 15 minutes. Cisplatin is administered second, which takes approximately two hours. Every patient will undergo a different number of cycles depending on the specifics of the situation.

Patients being treated with Cisplatin generally also take B12 and folic acid supplements due to the effects of chemotherapy medications. B12 supplements generally begin as an oral dosage one week before treatment begins, followed by intravenous or intramuscular shots throughout treatment on a weekly basis. Folic acid supplements are taken in pill form and continue for 21 days past the end of the chemotherapy treatment. In many cases, doctors also prescribe a steroid (taken orally) to cut down on skin rashes.

Side Effects of Cisplatin

If you are taking any other medications (prescription or over-the-counter), you should discuss your regimen with your doctor to minimize side effects. It is also important to drink plenty of water while being treated with Cisplatin to reduce stress on your kidneys.

When Cisplatin and Alimta are combined, side effects are generally mild. You may experience nausea, vomiting, fatigue, thinned hair, loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, numbness, low red or white blood cells, or kidney toxicity. Extreme side effects that should be reported to your doctor immediately include dizziness, chills, fever, seizures, rashes, swollen feet or ankles, shortness of breath, black stools and unusual bruising or bleeding.

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