Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that occurs in the mesothelial cells due to asbestos exposure. The mesothelial cells protect and moisten the organs through a lining covering known as mesothelium. However, when people are exposed to asbestos fibers released into the air, the body cannot properly expel them and they become trapped. These fibers roost in the mesothelial cells and irritate them, resulting in the formation of tumors. According to the location of the tumors, there are four different types of mesothelioma, which include pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and testicular mesothelioma.
There is currently no cure for this type of cancer and it is usually only diagnosed when it is already in advanced stages due to discreet or unnoticeable symptoms. Nevertheless, advancements in the field have resulted in better prognosis and in treatments which can help ease the symptoms. Chemotherapy is one of the most common types of treatment options for patients with mesothelioma while radiation therapy and surgery are also possible. There are, however, advantages and risks to be considered by both patients and physicians.
Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells, by stopping or slowing its growth. The cancer cells divide and grow rapidly and these drugs are meant to interrupt the division. Therefore, the tumors tend to shrink and patients are expected to experience relief from their symptoms. In the long-term, this treatment is also expected to decrease the risk of metastasis and extend patients’ life expectancy. Drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for patients with mesothelioma include Alimta, Carboplatin, Cisplatin, Gemcitabine, Onconase, and Navelbine, which are the most common while methotrexate, vincristine, vinblastine, mitomycin, doxorubicin, epirubicin, cyclophosphamide, and ifosfamide can also be used. These can be prescribed alone or in combination, the most used chemotherapy option being the combination of Alimta with Cisplatin.
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