Mesothelioma Treatments

Mesothelioma Heated Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is one of the most common methods for treating cancer. The goal of chemotherapy is to use toxic chemicals to kill harmful cancer cells. In most situations, chemotherapy drugs are designed to locate and target cells that are dividing and growing rapidly, then interfere with those processes. Chemotherapy is usually an excellent strategy, but associated drugs often have the same effect on healthy cells, bringing about a string of unpleasant side effects.

Heated Chemotherapy and Mesothelioma

Common chemotherapy drugs used in the treatment of mesothelioma include Alimta, Cisplatin, and Carboplatin. Doctors often use these and other drugs in combination with one another to achieve a greater effect. New clinical trials, however, have been focused on a new form of chemotherapy; heated chemotherapy. Heated chemotherapy was developed by Dr. Paul Sugarbaker of the Washington Cancer Institute. For this reason, heated chemotherapy is sometimes known as the Sugarbaker technique. Heated chemotherapy has generally been used in certain forms of ovarian cancer, but doctors are beginning to explore its applications for some forms of mesothelioma.

Heated chemotherapy is only used for cases of peritoneal mesothelioma and is not considered appropriate for pleural or pericardial mesothelioma at this time. Your doctor can help you talk through the various treatment options available to you based on your age, overall health and prognosis.

Prior to pursuing a course of heated chemotherapy, doctors generally perform surgery to remove as much of the tumor (or tumors) as possible. During the administration of heated chemotherapy, the chemotherapy drugs are administered directly into the peritoneum (or intraperitoneally). The goal of intraperitoneal administration of the drugs is to ensure that all affected organs and tissues receive equal dosages of the drugs. The drugs generally remain in the peritoneum for about one to two hours before being drained from the site.

The "heated" part of the therapy also comes into play: the peritoneal environment is heated to about 107-109 degrees Fahrenheit (42-43 degrees Celsius), and the drugs being administered are headed to 111-114 degrees Fahrenheit (44-46 degrees Celsius).

Advantages of Heated Chemotherapy

One major advantage of heated chemotherapy over standard approaches to the treatment is that the medications are applied directly to the peritoneum and other affected tissues and organs. Targeting the peritoneum allows the drugs to remain focused on the cancer site. Because heated chemotherapy brings fewer side effects, it can be a preferred choice for patients who qualify.

Heated chemotherapy can slow the spread of the disease and improve your quality of life, but the cancer cannot be completely eradicated. Because this technique is very new, there is much hope that it will bring about great advances in the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma.

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