For people with mesothelioma, chemotherapy may be used to stop the growth of cancer cells. Mesothelioma chemotherapy may also be used to help reduce pain. Possible side effects of chemotherapy include an increased risk of infection, hair loss, fatigue, mouth sores, and nausea and vomiting. Chemotherapy may be combined with radiation therapy or surgery and radiation therapy.
Mesothelioma Chemotherapy: An OverviewChemotherapy is a mesothelioma treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of mesothelioma cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing. Doctors also give mesothelioma chemotherapy to help reduce pain and other problems caused by mesothelioma. It may be given alone, with radiation, or with surgery and radiation.
When chemotherapy is taken orally or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). Combination chemotherapy is the use of more than one anticancer drug.
The way the chemotherapy is administered for mesothelioma treatment depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Usually mesothelioma chemotherapy is an outpatient treatment given at the hospital, clinic, doctor's office, or home. However, depending on which drugs are given and the patient's general health, the patient may need to stay in the hospital.
Side Effects of Mesothelioma ChemotherapyThe side effects of chemotherapy depend mainly on the drugs and the doses the patient receives. As with other types of mesothelioma treatment, side effects are different for each patient.
Mesothelioma chemotherapy affects rapidly dividing cells throughout the body, including blood cells. Blood cells fight infection, help the blood to clot, and carry oxygen to all parts of the body. When anticancer drugs damage blood cells, patients are more likely to get infections, may bruise or bleed easily, and may have less energy.
Cells in hair roots and cells that line the digestive tract also divide rapidly. As a result, patients may lose their hair and may have other side effects such as poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, or mouth sores.
Usually, these side effects go away gradually during the recovery periods between treatments or after treatment is complete. The healthcare team can suggest ways to relieve side effects.