Mesothelioma Chemotherapy-What is the Role of Cisplatin?

Mesothelioma Chemotherapy-What is the Role of Cisplatin?

Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug containing platinum as its major constituent. This chemotherapy agent is used to treat different types of asbestos related cancers, including mesothelioma. Most of the time doctors often combine Cisplatin with newer chemotherapy medications to increase effectiveness of the treatment.

Cisplatin is not a newly discovered drug, it has been on the market for some time, though it was initially generally found to be ineffective in treating mesothelioma when it is used as a monotherapy, but when combined with the new chemotherapy drug Alimta, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2005, Cisplatin has proven to be an effective medication. The combination of Alimta and Cisplatin is presently considered to be one of the most effective chemotherapy treatments for pleural mesothelioma patients, especially in advanced cases where surgery might not be an option.

Cisplatin was the first drug to be discovered in the class of alkylating agents {it was discovered about 30 years ago}and it has more side effects than the newer generations of alkylating agents, so most doctors would have tried to use one of the newer chemotherapy agents before recommending treatment with Cisplatin.

If you are prescribed Cisplatin, you should discuss any potential concerns with your doctor. Make sure to review statistics on the effectiveness of Cisplatin and Alimta, the administration of the drug combination, and the side effects that patients encounter with treatment. It is imperative to take a B12 supplement orally starting a week before treatment begins, as well as weekly B12 shots throughout treatment.

When placed on Cisplatin you should also take folic acid supplements daily (by mouth), and you should continue taking it for 21 days after the last dosage cycle of Cisplatin and Alimta. Doctor will also prescribe an oral steroid to help minimize side effects such as skin rash. Patients taking other medications, either prescriptions or non-prescriptions such as supplements, must inform their physician to avoid potential serious drug interactions.

Cisplatin with Alimta is given to mesothelioma patients every 21 days on an outpatient basis, usually at a hospital or cancer treatment center. The treatment consists of a dose of Alimta by IV (which typically lasts about 10 to 15 minutes), followed by Cisplatin (which takes approximately two hours to administer). The number of cycles required will depend on the patient’s response to medications, as well as any side effects experienced.

Side Effects

Side effects of Cisplatin and Alimta are usually mild to moderate for most patients with pleural mesothelioma, and include:
•Thinned or brittle hair
•Loss of appetite or weight
•Changes in taste
•Numbness or tingling in the fingertips and toes
•Kidney toxicity
•Low white blood cells (neutropenia)
•Low red blood cells (anemia)

Patients experiencing any of the following symptoms should immediately call their doctor:

•Unusual bruising or bleeding
•Black stools
•Shortness of breath or wheezing
•Swelling of the feet or ankles

Sometimes patients may encounter extreme side effects, these should be reported to a medical professional immediately. Cisplatin could also cause severe kidney damage so you are also advised to take plenty of fluids when you are placed on this chemotherapy agent as this will aid its rapid elimination from the body and will reduce the tendency for the drug to accumulate in the kidneys.

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