The first use of chemo was in the 1950’s. Today there are over 100 drugs used for chemo. Doctors will prescribe chemo based on the stage of mesothelioma or lung cancer which is how far the disease has progressed inside your body.
What Does Chemotherapy Do to Cancer Cells?
- Chemo can be used to slow down or stop the spread of cancer cells through the body.
- Chemo may be used to slow down the growth of mesothelioma tumors.
- Chemo can kill cancer or mesothelial cells.
- Chemo can alleviate some of the pain or pressure inside the body.
- Chemo has shown some potential to cure mesothelioma, however survival is extremely rare.
How Does Chemotherapy Work to Kill Cancer?
Chemo works by killing cancer or mesothelial cells. If mesothelioma is left untreated the cancerous tumors will grow rapidly causing impairment with critical organs and ultimately results in death of the mesothelioma patient.
Chemo will kill both cancerous cells and normal cells, however when normal cells are killed they have the ability to grow back and repair themselves, while the killed cancer cells should not grow back or repair themselves.
How is Chemotherapy Administered?
There are several different ways which chemo can be given to the mesothelioma patient:
- Chemo can be administered in pill form or liquid form and swallowed by the patient.
- Chemo can be administered through a shot much like a flu shot.
- Chemo can be administered intravenously through a catheter and directly into the bloodstream.
- Chemo can be massaged into the skin or put directly into the chest, back, or stomach area.
- Chemo is administered on a schedule which is tailored to the needs of the individual patient and can be anywhere from once a day to once a month.
- How long chemo lasts depends on how your body responds to the treatment, what the goals of the treatment are, and what stage and severity level your mesothelioma has progressed to. Mesothelioma presents itself in 4 stages and catching the disease early gives the best chance of a positive outcome.
What are the common side effects of chemo?
- Tiredness or Fatigue
- Mouth and Throat Inflammation
- Nausea with Vomiting
- Feelings of Constipation
- Low Blood Count Disorders
- Weakness in hands or feet
- Numbness in hands or feet
- Sore and weak muscles
- Loss of Balance
- Shaking or Trembling
- Hair Loss
- Appetite Loss
- Weight Loss
- Reduced Immune System
Your treating physician will monitor the side effects and may adjust medications or dosages in order to alleviate the side effects. It is necessary to continuously seek follow-up care while being prescribed chemotherapy.