Most Common Mesothelioma Treatments: Chemotherapy

In part three of this three-part series looking at common mesothelioma treatments, chemotherapy will be examined.* Chemotherapy uses medications to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The medications are injected intravenously so that they will spread throughout the body via the bloodstream. Typically, chemotherapy for mesothelioma treatment involves inserting a catheter through a tiny incision in the chest and injecting the medications directly onto the cancer site. Chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with surgery, often before the surgery to shrink the tumor as much as possible and slow the rate of metastasizing or spreading. Sometimes, chemotherapy is also given postoperatively to clean up cancer cells left behind. Other times, chemotherapy may be the only mesothelioma treatment. Sometimes, surgery is not possible because mesothelioma cancer cells are so diffuse, or spread out. In cases where chemotherapy is the only mesothelioma treatment, it is used to relieve the severity of symptoms rather than in an attempt to cure the cancer. Often, chemotherapy medications are used in cycles. Recovery time for the body is important between cycles, as the side effects of chemotherapy can be severe. Typical side effects from chemotherapy for mesothelioma treatment include:
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mouth sores
  • Diarrhea
  • Infection
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Fatigue
Different chemotherapy medications have different side effects, all of which typically subside quickly once treatments cease. This concludes this three-part blog series covering the most common mesothelioma treatments. *This information is summarizing the American Cancer Society's Cancer Information Database. The information in this blog series is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team.
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