Chemotherapy Treatments

Chemotherapy treatment in mesothelioma patients in general performs two different functions, one as a palliative treatment, reducing pain and secondly as an agent to kill, reduce or slow the growth of cancer cells.

Chemotherapy administered prior to surgery is known as neo-adjuvant chemotherapy. Used primarily to reduce tumor size making surgeries easier to perform.

Adjuvant chemotherapy is administered following surgery to reduce the risk of cancer reappearing.


Intracavitary Chemotherapy

Intracavitary chemotherapy is where the chemotherapy drug is administered directly into the chest cavity or abdominal area. These types of drug administration allow for a much higher dosage than by traditional intravenous methods. This approach, allows the chemotherapy drug to directly enter the tumor cells without causing a toxic reaction in the body’s healthy cells. Additionally, doctors have discovered that by heating the drug above the bodies normal temperature, cancer cell deletion is increased.

Combination Chemotherapy

The generally accepted administration of chemotherapy drugs in the treatment of mesothelioma is using drugs in combination with each other. Single agent chemotherapy has not had the same success rate in reducing or slowing the growth rate of tumors associated with mesothelioma according to clinical studies.

Chemotherapy Options

According to the FDA the following drugs have been approved and although these drugs have not been shown to affect overall survival rates, they do appear to be active against mesothelioma.

  • 5-Fluorouracil
  • Alimta®
  • Carbonplatin (Paraplatin) (serious side effects have been reported)
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Doxorubicin
  • Epirubicin
  • Ifosfamide
  • Interferon
  • Methotrexate (high dose)
  • Mitomycin C
  • Navelbine (Vinorelbine)
  • Onconase (Ranpirnase)
  • Platinol® (Cisplatin)
  • Timetrexate

Chemotherapy-Related Drugs

Taxotere and Taxol are drugs that have been shown to help kill cancer cells when cancer reappears after a previous chemotherapy regimen.

Endostatin is a natural protein that has been demonstrated to inhibit the growth of blood vessels by starving the tumor of its blood supply. The FDA has not approved this drug for general use.

Zofran, an anti-nausea drug has been quite effective in the treatment of nausea associated with chemotherapy and radiation treatments.