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Chemotherapy is one of the most frequently used treatment methods for cancer. The standard first-line chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma is pemetrexed (Alimta ®) and Cisplatin. A few recent research studies show that combining these drugs with bevacizumab (Avastin) can enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy against mesothelioma cancer.
Chemotherapy (literally “chemical therapy”) is the usage of certain medicines to kill cancer cells and reduce the chances of them from multiplying. A number of different chemotherapy drugs are accessible to deal with mesothelioma, although some of these drugs have actually proven to be more effective than others.
Mesothelioma is a sudden and devastating form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. This terminal disease occurs unexpectedly usually 20 to 40 or more years after asbestos exposure. Anyone can be exposed from everyday locations, such as homes, workplaces, schools, and even by direct contact with someone who has asbestos dust contamination on their clothes. Wives and children of workers that were exposed to asbestos have also been shown to be at risk of this disease as a result of personal exposure to asbestos dust on their loved one’s clothing. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Company for Research study on Cancer (IARC), there is no proof of any asbestos exposure level that is considered safe. In conclusion, there is not a specific level of direct exposure that can reduce your possibility of establishing the disease. Any level of asbestos exposure may result in this degenerative disease.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and are experiencing signs such as shortness of breath, coughing, pain in chest or abdomen, seek out a mesothelioma experienced doctor as quickly as possible in order to get appropriate treatment. If medical diagnosis is early you will have access to a wider range of treatment options with more promising outcomes.
How Chemotherapy Treats Mesothelioma
Chemotherapy can be used to treat mesothelioma patients in two ways. Either or both of these methods may be used in conjunction with surgery and/or radiation, depending on the treatment plan developed by the doctor and the patient.
Chemotherapy can be given intravenously or as a pill. It then travels throughout the bloodstream and reaches the entire body. Systemic chemotherapy carries the most side effects because in addition to killing cancer cells, it also kills other fast-growing cells such as hair and blood cells.
In some cases, chemotherapy can be delivered directly to the area where tumors have formed, often with fewer side effects than systemic chemotherapy. Intrapleural chemotherapy and heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) have become more popular in recent years, with great results.
The doctors who operate on mesothelioma patients often specialize in the area of the body where the tumors first form. For example, thoracic surgeons – who specialize in surgeries of the chest cavity – may perform surgery on patients with pleural or pericardial mesothelioma. There are also surgical oncologists who specialize in cancer-related surgery.
First-Line and Second-Line Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy treatments are often discussed as being first-line and second-line (or even third-line) treatments. These refer to the chemotherapy treatments given first, second, third, and so on, based on their effectiveness.
The most common first-line treatment for mesothelioma is a combination – often called a “cocktail” – of pemetrexed and a platinum-based drug such as cisplatin or carboplatin. This combination has been found to be the most effective in treating mesothelioma, and therefore, it is usually administered first.
If the first-line treatment does not work, a second-line treatment may be tried. There is currently no consensus within the medical community about the best second-line treatment for mesothelioma. Doctors will often make their best decision on which drugs can best treat the disease based on the patient’s specific circumstances.
Mesothelioma Chemotherapy Drugs
A number of different chemotherapy drugs can be used to treat mesothelioma. The recommended chemotherapy drug will vary with each patient. Oncologists choose the drugs they believe will most benefit the patient while also taking into consideration side effects and other important issues.
Currently, the most widely used drug and the one with which doctors have had the most success is Pemetrexed (Alimta®). This drug is usually used in tandem with a platinum agent like Cisplatin and has been shown to add several months to the patient’s mesothelioma life expectancy in many cases.
Pemetrexed is the most common chemotherapy drug used to treat mesothelioma, often given in conjunction with cisplatin. It is an injected drug, and patients will often be given corticosteroids and prescribed vitamin B9 (folic acid) and B12 supplements to prevent certain harmful side effects.
Cisplatin is a platinum-based chemotherapy drug administered through an IV. Along with pemetrexed, it is one of the most common mesothelioma drugs. In many cases, doctors will treat mesothelioma patients with cisplatin for unresectable tumors (i.e., when surgery is not an option).
Another platinum-based drug, carboplatin was derived from cisplatin in the 1980s. Although it typically has fewer and milder side effects than cisplatin, it can also inhibit the body’s production of blood cells, leading to an increased likelihood of fatigue and infection.
Typically administered in combination with carboplatin, gemcitabine is used to treat lung, bladder, and ovarian cancers. In clinical trials, it has been shown to be a relatively effective chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma, and is often used as a second-line treatment.
Granted orphan drug status by the FDA in 2007, ranpirnase is an enzyme that has been shown in clinical trials to effectively kill mesothelioma cells by breaking down their RNA. It is unique in that it does this without affecting healthy cells, which severely reduces the potential side effects of chemotherapy.
Primarily used to treat non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), vinorelbine has also been shown to be somewhat effective against mesothelioma. It works by triggering apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells.
Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC)
Another option which has been proven highly effective in treating peritoneal mesothelioma that has not metastasized outside of the abdomen is Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC). This procedure combines surgery with a concentrated dose of chemotherapy in the abdomen with minimal exposure to the rest of the body.
Following a peritonectomy and/or cytroreductive surgery to remove parts of the peritoneum and any visible tumors in the abdomen, a heated chemotherapy solution is introduced into the abdominal cavity. After the roughly 100-103 degree solution is pumped into the abdomen, it circulates for one and half to two hours reaching all exposed areas aiming to kill any cancer cells that may not have been removed during surgery. This procedure is beneficial as it allows for a more concentrated dose of chemotherapy while not subjecting the rest of the body to the potential toxic effects of the drug.
Types of Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma arises in the membrane which surrounds the lung, called the pleura. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this deadly cancer.
Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity, called the peritoneum. Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common but is more often found in women than in men.
Pericardial mesothelioma originates in the pericardium, which lines the heart.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy can cause many side effects in mesothelioma patients. Most of these adverse effects are short term and will go away soon after treatment ends. Others, however, can last long time, in some cases even years after the chemotherapy has ended.
Patients or their loved ones should report all chemotherapy side effects to the patient’s medical team, even if they are deemed “common” or seem mild. This is especially important after the first treatment, when it may be difficult to predict how the patient will react to certain drugs.
Asbestos Cancer Treatment
Asbestos cancer treatment options generally include some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Depending upon the location of the cancer, typically asbestos associated malignancies can be challenging to resect due to the fact that the latency period over which the cancer goes undiscovered can typically extend into the time duration where the growth develops through its preliminary stages. Later on phase cancers, and particularly those related to asbestos, will frequently not be resectable malignancies. While medical diagnosis of early stage asbestos cancer is unusual, certainly those eligible for surgical elimination will often have the cancer resected. Adjuvant chemotherapy is typically administered after surgical treatment to complement the resection.
Pleurectomy and extrapleural pneumonectomy, both comprehensive surgeries, are often utilized in the treatment of pleural asbestos cancer. Surgical treatment is much less common in deadly peritoneal and pericardial cancer, as the origin of the growth is tough to access without endangering the survival of the patient.
Chemotherapy is the most often made use of treatment mechanism for the control of asbestos cancer. Drugs like Alimta ®, Cisplatin, and Gemcitabine have all been utilized with differing degrees of efficacy to stop or slow the spread of malignant mesothelioma cancer and lung carcinomas. Continuous medical trials continue to evaluate brand-new drugs and drug cocktails for the management and treatment of asbestos cancer. Current patterns recommend that researchers are making strides in determining authorized treatment routines not just for malignant pleural mesothelioma, however likewise peritoneal and pericardial cancers.
Currently, the only FDA-approved chemotherapy routine for the asbestos cancer malignant pleural mesothelioma cancer is a mix of Alimta ® and Cisplatin, delivered intravenously, with 21 days in between each subsequent injection. Asbestos lung cancer carcinomas are also treatable with chemotherapy. Because asbestos cancer incidence of this type is far more common (and not necessarily straight attributable to asbestos exposure), there are a lot more chemotherapy choices available to clients.
External beam radiation is popular amongst patients getting treatment for pleural and peritoneal cancer. Pericardial cancer patients may also make use of radiation in the control of their cancer, but in lower dosages considering the area’s proximity to the heart. Radiation therapy is thought about helpful for palliation too to prevent malignant cells from taking hold once again following surgical treatment.
As part of developing research studies into the control of asbestos cancer through radiotherapy, researchers have started using brachytherapy to control mesothelioma growth spread and development. Brachytherapy is an internal radiation source implanted in the afflicted area which has actually revealed promise in clinical research studies in minimizing tumor mass and slowing down. Every year, survival rates are extended even further and more funding is now being invested in research study to examine new choices for treatment. Researchers want to, one day, discover a cure for mesothelioma.
How to Get Diagnosed
For Mesothelioma, cancer specialists will approach a mesothelioma diagnosis by first testing symptoms. This initial testing is usually to see if symptoms are being caused by a more common disease. As part of this process, the doctor will obtain a full medical history from the patient. This usually will include asking the patient about any exposure to asbestos.
After these steps have been taken, the doctor will usually perform a series of tests, some of these tests could include imaging scans and blood tests. Most of the time if these tests indicate a potential for mesothelioma, a biopsy will be taken. Biopsy Tests are normally the only way to give a definitive Mesothelioma Diagnosis.
All forms of Mesothelioma have a poor long term prognosis. Catching the disease early on can potentially improve life expectancy. Having mesothelioma diagnosed before it spreads can increase the effectiveness of treatments and clinical trial options.
In light of the current difficulty in curing the disease, most research and development around all forms of mesothelioma is focused around improving early detection and diagnosis of the disease. This includes recent developments of new biomarker blood tests, which can detect the presence of substances that indicate mesothelioma may be present in the body.
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Asbestos Exposure & Cancer
The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Asbestos dust and particles that have been inhaled or ingested cause inflammation and disruption of normal cell growth on a microscopic level. This can lead to the development of mesothelioma cancer. Thousands of industrial, commercial and consumer products were manufactured with asbestos from the 1940s through as late as the 1990s in some cases. Most of these companies knew the deadly effects that exposing their employees and customers would cause and yet still continued to use the deadly substance due to corporate greed. For this reason many lawsuits have been brought against these companies on behalf of mesothelioma victims. By understanding that mesothelioma is a lethal cancer, whoever exposed you or your loved one to asbestos dust is responsible for their death.
Here at the Asbestos Cancer Organization we have teamed up with a top mesothelioma law firm. The Lawyers at Goldberg, Persky & White have been fighting and winning mesothelioma cases for mesothelioma clients for over 40 years. We strongly suggest that if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma that they seek legal consultation with our partners at Goldberg, Persky & White. They are the best of the best. Their experienced mesothelioma lawyers will continue fighting cases for their clients and assist all persons diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Most asbestos exposure originates from the thousands of products that contained asbestos. People who worked in industries like steel mills, foundries, power plants, chemical plants, refineries, paper mills, glass manufacturing, iron smelting and aluminum manufacturing from the 1940s through the 1990s were most likely exposed to asbestos dust. A lot of the insulation, refractories and friction products used by these industries during this time period contained asbestos. Construction workers including laborers, insulators, brick layers, electricians, machinists, millwrights, plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, iron workers, boilermakers, carpenters, plasterers, drywall workers and even superintendents, engineers and architects who worked in any form of construction from the 1940s through the 1990s could have been exposed to asbestos dust. There were numerous asbestos containing construction materials sold by the asbestos companies.
The chances of being exposed to asbestos particles in these settings does not decrease even if a worker was never personally handling asbestos containing products. If someone worked in the same area where work with asbestos products was conducted they also inhaled the deadly toxins. Most companies that manufactured or sold asbestos products did not provide warnings to their customers, many workers unwittingly introduced asbestos dust into their homes on their contaminated work clothing, subjecting their wives and even their children to enough asbestos exposure to cause mesothelioma. It has recently been found that some common talcum powders, including baby powder, shaving powders, cosmetic and hygiene talcum powders, contained dangerous levels of asbestos sufficient to cause mesothelioma.
Top Mesothelioma Doctors
Only the best, just for you.
Dr. Raphael Bueno is the Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery and Vice Chair of Surgery for Cancer and Translational Research at Boston’s Brigham and
Dr. Harvey Pass is a renowned thoracic surgeon that has dedicated his career to bringing increased awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure.
Dr. Robert Brian Cameron currently serves as the Director of Thoracic Oncology at University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, Department of Surgery.
Dr. David Sugarbaker is a world-renowned doctor and certified thoracic surgeon widely credited for developing the first tri-modal treatment approach for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Dr. Lary A. Robinson is currently the Director of the Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida.
As director of the mesothelioma program at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston, Anne Tsao M.D. is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on malignant mesothelioma.
What Treatments are Available for Mesothelioma?
On behalf of the Asbestos Cancer Organization, we strongly recommend you consult a mesothelioma experienced medical physician for any advice related to treatment options and care. We care deeply about your situation and only want the very best for you & your family. We have some of top mesothelioma doctors & latest clinical trials listed and linked on our website. Check out the Top Mesothelioma Doctors page or even the Clinical Trials page for more accurate information on who can help you & what new clinical trials are available to apply for. We also have some of the Top Cancer Centers listed and linked on our website.
Regarding your health, it is always best to make final decisions when speaking to a professional medical doctor. Please contact us and we will do our best to connect you with a top mesothelioma doctor.
We’ve collected a database of the Top Mesothelioma Doctors from around the country. Search for them here.
Costs Related to Mesothelioma
As with all types of cancer, Mesothelioma costs can be extremely high, often hundreds of thousands of dollars. The costs associated with the disease can be lumped into several categories: diagnostic testing costs, treatment costs, follow up, recovery and care expenses.
How much a family spends on mesothelioma care will likely depend on a variety of factors. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to: the exact diagnosis, the stage when the disease is diagnosed, what is covered by insurance, and even where the patient lives. Asbestos exposure is the only proven cause of mesothelioma, those who are diagnosed with this deadly cancer may be able to receive financial assistance for many different things, from lost income to medical costs, as well as damages for pain and suffering related to the disease. On behalf of the Asbestos Cancer Organization, we would like to recommend that if you or a loved one has been diagnosed, you should strongly consider taking legal steps to help offset this potential financial burden.
Learn more about the financial assistance that is available if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma. Financial aid options available to you can include Mesothelioma trust fund claims and a lawsuit against responsible members of the asbestos industry. Companies that exposed you or your loved one to asbestos dust are directly responsible for your current condition. You should explore your legal right to compensation from asbestos companies liable for your exposure to asbestos. Here at the Asbestos Cancer Organization we have teamed up with a top mesothelioma law firm. The attorneys at Goldberg, Persky & White having been fighting and winning mesothelioma cases for mesothelioma patients for over 40 years. We highly suggest that if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma that they seek legal consultation with our legal partners at Goldberg, Persky & White. They are the best of the best. Their experienced lawyers will continue fighting mesothelioma cases for their clients and assist anyone who develops mesothelioma.
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