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Inhaling Chemotherapy Drugs May Reduce Harmful Effects for Patients with Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma

Chemotherapy Mesothelioma Cells

Scientists in Scotland are developing a new mesothelioma treatment options that would allow patients diagnosed with lung cancer and mesothelioma to receive chemotherapy drugs in vaporized form. Patients would inhale medication through a nebulizer, allowing it to reach the diseased tissue more quickly and avoiding the harmful complications of taking medication intravenously such as kidney damage.

Lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung, take the lives of more than 150,000 Americans each year. Breathing asbestos, a mineral fiber widely used in building materials for many decades, is associated with both lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Many people diagnosed with asbestos cancer are retired workers and veterans, who inhaled asbestos dust in the workplace. Symptoms of mesothelioma typically appear 30 years to 50 years after exposure to asbestos.  Mesothelioma remains difficult to treat, meaning that new therapies and methods of delivery of medicine are essential. Chemotherapy and radiation are the primary methods of treatment and may be combined with surgery for patients whose cancer is diagnosed at a less advanced stage.

“By delivering Cisplatin, one of the most widely used drugs for lung cancer, in vaporized form, we would be able to get it to the cancerous cells and avoid the damage to healthy cells which can be hugely debilitating to patients,” Dr. Chris Carter, a senior lecturer at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, who led the research.  “It would make the treatment far less onerous for them and we hope it would help them to live longer.”

Cisplatin is often given in combination with either Pemetrexed to control the spread of mesothelioma.

The use of asbestos has been restricted since the late 1970s in the U.S. But millions of tons of asbestos-containing materials remain in older houses and buildings. That poses a risk of exposure to airborne asbestos dust when those structures are remodeled or demolished, if the asbestos is not removed under controlled conditions.

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Last Modified: March 3, 2019

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