AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer usually caused by exposure to asbestos. It attacks the mesothelium, which is the thin layer of tissue that covers most of your internal organs. Though the disease is aggressive and deadly, it sometimes lies dormant for twenty to fifty or more years before symptoms become obvious . Because the symptoms are similar to other less serious maladies, such as viral pneumonia, it is often misdiagnosed, which can delay proper treatment. By the time it is discovered, it is so far advanced that for many people a cure is not possible. Treatments vary from case to case. If the disease is diagnosed at an early stage, surgery may cure the cancer or at least reduce symptoms caused by its spread. However, overall results from surgery have been disappointing. Another treatment option, used either along with surgery or by itself, is chemotherapy. In addition to proper medical treatment, sufferers who were exposed to asbestos are also advised to procure a trusted lawyer should they need to pursue a lawsuit as a consequence their exposure.

Mesothelioma Cases

Around 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States every year. The disease occurs more often in men than women, and two-thirds of mesothelioma patients are over the age of 65. Due to the rarity of the disease, the American Cancer Society states that it is difficult to find accurate survival rates by stages. Average survival times range from four to eighteen months, while five to ten percent of people diagnosed with mesothelioma live five years or more after treatment. Survival rates are higher for those whose disease is detected in the early stages. Among the treatments available, chemotherapy is considered one of the most effective.

Neoadjuvant and Adjuvant Chemotherapy

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is administered before surgery to try to reduce the size of the cancer and prevent it from spreading. This makes tumors easier to remove. Adjuvant chemotherapy is administered after surgery to try to obliterate lingering cancer cells too small to be detected. This helps delay or prevent the cancer from returning.

Chemotherapy as a Primary Treatment

Chemotherapy is one of the most widely used treatments for malignant mesothelioma. The drugs most commonly used, often in combination, are pemetrexed and cisplatin. Chemotherapy to treat mesothelioma is administered in two ways. In systemic therapy, the drugs are given in pill form or injected into the veins. They travel throughout the body via the bloodstream, killing fast-growing cancer cells. However, this method also causes more side effects because it attacks other fast-growing cells along with the cancer cells. Intracavitary chemotherapy targets the tumor more precisely and has fewer side effects. With this method, a catheter is inserted through the chest or abdominal wall through a small cut, and higher doses of the drugs are administered directly where the cancer cells are. Though some of the drugs are still absorbed into the bloodstream, most are localized at the site of the tumor.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Because chemotherapy drugs attack cells that divide quickly, they don’t just attack cancer cells. Chemotherapy also affects other cells that divide quickly, such as those in the intestines, the lining of the mouth, bone marrow, and hair follicles. For this reason, it is common for those undergoing chemotherapy to have side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss, mouth sores, hair loss, fatigue, infections, and easy bleeding and bruising. Most of these side effects are short-term and go away when treatment is completed, but with some patients they last a long time. In most cases, medications are available to reduce and manage the side effects of chemotherapy.


Donald Barker is a freelance writer from Little Rock, Arkansas. He writes on health, wellness, exercise, fitness, nutrition & medical science.

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