Mesothelioma Chemotherapy – What Are the Six Commonly Used Chemotherapy Agents?

Mesothelioma cancer, can be treated by the use of anti cancer drug therapies. These anti cancer drugs act by inhibiting tumor growth through the blocking of cell division and multiplication. This mode of action also unfortunately affects other rapidly replicating cells in the body, cells of the hair and the lining of the intestine are particularly vulnerable, thus leading to the common side effects of anti cancer drugs like hair loss and nausea.

Mesothelioma is notoriously resistant to common anti cancer chemotherapy as result of some reasons. The cancer takes a long time to mature and show symptoms, by the time these symptoms appear the tumor will be well formed with a lot of layers of dead cells that the anti cancer drugs will find it difficult to penetrate, and also by the time a diagnosis of mesothelioma is made, most victims have but a short time left to live so the drugs do not have enough time to exert their maximal effect.

New drugs that have been designed to overcome these challenges and have fewer and lesser side effects include:

Alimta (Pemetrexed)

Alimta was approved by The Food and Drug Administration in February 2004 as a new anti cancer drug for the treatment of mesothelioma. Its mode of action is by inhibiting the creation of thymidine and purine , two enzymes that are vital to cell growth. This stops the mesothelioma cancer cells from multiplying at a very fast rate. Its side effects include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, mouth sores and low blood counts. Patients are usually placed on vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements to reduce the severity of the side effects.

Cisplatin

This is a platinum-based chemotherapy drug that prevents the reproduction of DNA and is used to treat a number of different cancers including mesothelioma. The FDA approved it in 1978 to treat a number of cancers, and has proved somewhat effective on mesothelioma. Cisplatin however has some very serious side effects which inlude ear damage{ototoxicity} leading to hearing loss, kidney damage, nerve damage, and nausea, and so some oncologist are very reluctant to prescribe this drug to patients.

Tomudex (Raltitrexed)

This drug prevents cancer cells from replicating the DNA that is needed for multiplication and spread of cancer. This drug can be used as a monotherapy or in combination with onconase.

Vinorelbine

This anticancer drug was initially approved by the FDA in 1994 for the treatment of small lung cancer and breast cancer, but recent studies have shown that it could also be effective against mesothelioma, and the drug has little side effect profile. It can also be used in combination with some other chemotherapy drugs.

Onconase (Ranpirnase/P-30 Protein)

Onconase is a chemical taken from the eggs of the leopard frog that blocks protein synthesis which leads to blockage of tumor cell division and growth. It has shown promise as becoming one of the more effective drugs for treating cancer, as survival rates for one and two years are 34.4% and 21.6 respectively, as opposed to six to eight months without treatment.

Veglin

This is an anticancer chemotherapy drug that blocks the growth of tumors in people suffering from lymphoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and colon and lung cancers. Many oncologists believe that it could be effective in fighting mesothelioma, as Veglin inhibits vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a substance that is usually found in very high concentrations in mesothelioma patients. VEGF helps tumors grow new blood vessels which help to supply nutrients to the new tumor cells. This drug inhibits this process thus starving the new cancer cells of their much needed nutrients, leading to their ultimate death

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