Mesothelioma chemotherapy uses powerful medications to destroy pleural and peritoneal tumors, as well as cancerous cells that have spread to other locations in the body. Chemo is often combined with other treatments, such as surgery and radiation therapy, to produce the most promising outcomes. However, patients who are not good candidates for (or elect not to have) surgery might choose chemotherapy as their primary form of treatment. Some patients may even choose to enroll in a clinical trial to receive one of the newest chemotherapy drugs before it is offered for use in other settings.
Several different medications can be used for mesothelioma chemotherapy. Currently, the most effective option is a combination of two or more medications, such as cisplatin, carboplatin or gemcitabine. The FDA has also approved a new drug, Alimta, for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. While most chemotherapy medications are provided as a pill or intravenous infusion, some peritoneal mesothelioma medications can be injected directly into the abdominal cavity for better results.
To determine which mesothelioma chemotherapy medications to give a patient (and how the drugs should be administered), a medical oncologist will consider factors such as:
- The type of mesothelioma the patient has been diagnosed with
- The stage and extent of the patient’s cancer
- The patient’s age and overall health, as this can affect the ability to tolerate the side effects caused by stronger drugs or higher chemotherapy doses
- The patient’s responses to previous mesothelioma chemotherapy medications
- The other types of treatment the patient may undergo in the future
At Moffitt Cancer Center, our multispecialty tumor board reviews each patient’s case to ensure that treatment is individualized to meet his or her unique needs. Referrals are not required to receive mesothelioma chemotherapy at Moffitt; call 1-888-MOFFITT or submit a new patient registration form online.