Some Mesothelioma Patients Benefit From Gentler Chemotherapy Approach
The chemotherapy drug Pemetrexed is the standard treatment for patients with pleural mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest cavity. Pemetrexed, which is sold as the brand name drug Alimta is often administered with a second anti-cancer drug to increase its effectiveness. But the combination of powerful chemotherapy drugs also can increase the chances of side effects and prevent patients from completing the course of mesothelioma treatment.
Medical researchers in Padua, Italy compared the effectiveness and tolerability of pemetrexed + cisplatin to the drug combination of pemetrexed + carboplatin for mesothelioma patients. In an article about mesothelioma treatment options in the December issue of the medical journal Anticancer Research, the researchers reviewed the results of 51 patients with operable mesotheioma who underwent treatment. The patients received three cycles of either pemetrexed + carboplatin or pemetrexed + carboplatin, then had surgery and radiation treatment.
Of the group, 27 patients received pemetrexed + carboplatin, while 24 patients received pemetrexed + cisplatin.
The researchers said both combinations controlled the cancer approximately 14 to 15 months on average before a relapse. They did observe more complications experienced by patients who received cisplatin, which could weaken the condition of patients preparing for surgery.
Approximately 2,500 people are diagnosed with new cases of mesothelioma each year in the United States. Many people diagnosed with the disease are older workers and veterans who worked around asbestos decades ago. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. The disease is incurable as yet, but there are treatments available to try to manage the disease
The most effective treatment for mesothelioma patients is still a matter of debate among medical professionals. Based on the results, the researchers conclude that there is a role for a “gentler approach” involving pemetrexed + carboplatin in treating mesothelioma patients, particularly for elderly patients.