Mesothelioma and Chemotherapy: What Are Your Chances?
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, and heart. The disease is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos fibers and has a long latency period of up to 50 years. While there are various treatment options available, chemotherapy is often recommended to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. In this article, we will explore the use of chemotherapy in treating mesothelioma and the chances of success.
What is Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that involves the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs are usually administered intravenously, but they can also be taken in pill form. Chemotherapy works by targeting fast-dividing cells, which includes cancer cells. While chemotherapy is effective in killing cancer cells, it can also damage healthy cells in the body, resulting in side effects such as hair loss, nausea, fatigue, and an increased risk of infection.
How is Chemotherapy Used to Treat Mesothelioma?
Chemotherapy is often used in combination with other treatments to manage mesothelioma. For example, it may be used before surgery to shrink tumors or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. It may also be used in combination with radiation therapy or as a palliative treatment to help relieve symptoms such as pain and shortness of breath.
The specific chemotherapy drugs used to treat mesothelioma vary depending on the type and stage of the cancer. The most commonly used drugs include cisplatin, carboplatin, gemcitabine, and pemetrexed. These drugs are administered in cycles, with a rest period between each cycle to allow the body to recover.
What Are the Chances of Success with Chemotherapy?
The success of chemotherapy in treating mesothelioma varies depending on various factors such as the type and stage of cancer, the patient's overall health, and the specific chemotherapy drugs used. While chemotherapy cannot cure mesothelioma, it can help improve quality of life and extend survival time.
According to research, the median survival time for mesothelioma patients who receive chemotherapy is around 12 months. However, some patients may experience a longer survival time depending on their response to treatment. Additionally, some patients may experience a complete remission of the cancer, although this is rare.
What Are the Side Effects of Chemotherapy?
As mentioned earlier, chemotherapy can cause side effects due to its effect on healthy cells in the body. The most common side effects of chemotherapy for mesothelioma include:
- Hair loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Mouth sores
- Increased risk of infection due to a weakened immune system
- Low blood cell counts
While these side effects can be uncomfortable, they can usually be managed with medication and support from healthcare professionals.
Mesothelioma is a challenging disease, and chemotherapy is just one of the treatment options available. Although it cannot cure the cancer, it can help manage symptoms and extend survival time. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it's essential to work closely with an experienced healthcare team to determine the best possible treatment plan. Through their guidance and support, you can make informed decisions about your care and improve your chances of a better outcome.