Like radiation, chemotherapy provides no cure for mesothelioma but can be extremely effective in providing relief from the difficult symptoms of the disease. As researchers continue to trial different combinations of chemotherapy drugs, patients will continue to benefit from their findings. The hops is that someday, chemotherapy drugs may go a lot further in prolonging the life of a patient and developing a cure for mesothelioma.
Chemotherapy drugs, in general, are either ingested in pill form or injected into the patient systemically. In the case of mesothelioma patients, the drugs are administered intravenously. Doctors will typically combine two drugs for the best result. One will act as the primary cytotoxin and another will serve as an alkalizing agent to stabilize surrounding healthy cells. At the present the only combination approved by the Food and Drug Administration is Alimta; (pemetrexed) and Cisplatin, but other drugs are used in tandem if deemed preferable for a specific patient participating in a clinical trial. In some cases, patients can only tolerate a single drug so only one is used for treatment.
Other drugs are given to the patient to combat the unpleasant side effects of chemo, such as medication to relieve nausea and vomiting or vitamins to replace essential ones lost during chemotherapy. Some patients for one reason or another will make a measured determination that the side effects of chemotherapy are too severe and opt not to receive this treatment.