When someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma and there are treatment options, there can be a variety of serious, debilitating side effects from these treatments. Below, you can learn more about the side effects you can expect from different types of treatments for this disease.
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Chemotherapy is a mesothelioma treatment that uses specialized medication. Chemotherapy drugs work by killing cancer cells or preventing them from multiplying to stop the growth of mesothelioma. Chemotherapy is taken via oral medications or through injections in the muscle or vein, allowing the medications to enter the bloodstream and reach mesothelioma cells throughout the body.
The type of chemotherapy prescribed for your mesothelioma treatment will depend on the type and stage of the disease. The survival rate for pleural mesothelioma patients receiving only chemotherapy as treatment seems to go down over time, with fewer and fewer patients surviving after only a few years. Chemotherapy combined with surgery has proven more successful for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma.
Chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma produces different side effects depending on which drugs are used, the dosage prescribed, and the length of chemotherapy treatment. The severity of symptoms may range between patients.
Possible chemotherapy side effects include:
Radiation may also be used to treat mesothelioma. Radiation therapy involves high-energy X-rays or other radiation. The radiation prevents mesothelioma cells from growing or kills them.
Two types of radiation therapy are used in the treatment of mesothelioma: external and internal. External radiation therapy involves the use of a machine that sends radiation from outside the body inwards to the location of the cancer. Internal radiation therapy is administered through radioactive materials that are sealed within seeds, wires, needles or catheters and placed within the body near the cancer.
The type of radiation therapy prescribed to treat mesothelioma depends on the type of cancer and the stage of the disease. Radiation therapy also may produce many side effects that range in severity from one patient to the next.
Common side effects of radiation therapy for mesothelioma include:
Radiation side effects are often temporary, though some rare and serious side effects may be permanent. The location of targeted radiation typically affects where side effects are felt within the body. Radiation to treat mesothelioma in the chest may cause lung damage in the patient, causing chronic breathing problems and shortness of breath.
Your physician can help you best manage side effects of your mesothelioma treatment. Medications, supplements or lifestyle changes may be prescribed to ease the symptoms you experience.
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