Alimta & Cisplatin Chemotherapy for Mesothelioma Patients

Alimta & Cisplatin Chemotherapy for Mesothelioma Patients

Chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with surgery and/or radiation treatments for cancer. Chemotherapy can be used by itself in cases where the patient is not a candidate for surgery. In 2004, pemetrexed, also commercially known by its brand name Alimta, became the first chemical treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration specifically in the use of treating mesothelioma patients, a historic event for victims of the asbestos related cancer.

Alimta is only one half of the chemical equation, however. It is used as a combination drug in conjunction with Cisplatin, a platinum based chemical solution for a wide range of cancer patients. Together, the Alimta-Cisplatin combination can be used to prepare candidates for pre-surgery or assist with post-surgery, reducing or outright destroying tumors in the body. For non-surgical candidates, the combination has shown more success in the survival rate of patients than other forms of chemical or radiation treatments.

The Alimta and Cisplatin chemotherapy process is not a cure for malignant mesothelioma, but its usage has been proven to extend the life-span by an average of at least three months. By itself this may not seem to be very helpful, but if a patient is able to become eligible for surgical removal of the cancerous tumor then in that circumstance, the drug will have helped save a life.

Before and after the chemical procedure begins, the patient will be given Vitamin B12 and folic acid. In addition, the day before and after the treatment, a doctor will prescribe a corticosteroid, reducing the chance of an epidermal reaction.

Alimta is taken intravenously for approximately ten minutes every twenty-one days, and thirty minutes later Cisplatin will then be administered. Depending on the patient’s initial response to Cisplatin, the dosage may be reduced or increased. It is important that in attempting to cure the cancer that the liver is not permanently injured.

There are side-effects. This is because chemical therapy is not a pinpoint accurate solution for cancer as surgery is. That is to say, healthy cells will be affected along with the cancerous ones, and this is what causes the side-effects. There is no way to counter this properly, as chemotherapy is meant to kill the cancer cells and so one might think of the healthy ones too close to the cancerous ones as innocent bystander victims in the war against the disease.

The side-effects of Alimta include loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, mouth sores, skin rash, decrease of red cells which may result in greater risk of infection, decrease of white cells which may lead to anemia, decrease in platelets which may result in bruising and bleeding. The major side effects associated with Cisplatin include kidney damage, nerve damage, hearing loss, and hair loss.

Allergic reactions to Alimta are possible, and patients and those caring for them should be aware of the symptoms if a change in chemical treatment is necessary. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, fever greater than 100.4 Fahrenheit, or hives.

Donald Nye is a respected researcher and writer that has been writing about asbestos-related health issues, such as mesothelioma, since 1987.

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