Nearly all mesothelioma patients are treated with drug therapy. Typically, mesothelioma drug therapy refers to chemotherapy drugs, which can be taken in pill form or injected into a vein. Mesothelioma drug therapy can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments, such as radiation or surgery.

A combination of two drugs, Alimta and Cisplatin, is currently considered the most effective mesothelioma drug therapy. The Alimta/Cisplatin chemotherapy regimen is the first FDA approved treatment specifically for malignant mesothelioma. While Cisplatin has been used to treat various cancers, including mesothelioma, since 1979, Alimta has only been available since 2004

Clinical trials suggest that mesothelioma patients tend to survive longer when taking Alimta and Cisplatin together rather than just taking Cisplatin alone. The newest drug, Alimta, works by blocking the enzymes necessary for DNA copying and cell division. Together, Alimta and Cisplatin treat mesothelioma by stopping cancer cell division.

In addition to Alimta and Cisplatin, other chemotherapy drugs may be taken as part of mesothelioma drug therapy, including:

  • Onconase (Ranpirnase/P-30 Protein)
  • Veglin
  • Tomudex (Raltitrexed)
  • Vinorelbine

Purposes of Mesothelioma Drug Therapy

Since mesothelioma is normally diagnosed in its late stages and drugs need time to work, drug therapy rarely cures mesothelioma. However, depending on how advanced a particular mesothelioma case is, drug therapy can be used to achieve different goals such as:

  • To stop the cancer from spreading or growing
  • To shrink tumors prior to surgery
  • To destroy microscopic disease remaining after surgery
  • To relieve symptoms, such as pain

Mesothelioma Drug Therapy Side Effects

Although mesothelioma drug therapy has benefits, it can cause numerous adverse side effects. Drug therapy side effects usually go away once treatment ceases but some side effects can still be dangerous. For example, drug therapy kills white blood cells, causing patients to become vulnerable to serious infections. Other adverse side effects caused by drug therapy include:

  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bone pain
  • Appetite loss and weight loss

If you or someone you love has been injured by mesothelioma, contact us today to learn about your legal rights and options. 

Published November 17, 2011 by