Alimta-Cisplatin Regimen for Malignant Mesothelioma

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer patients. These drugs can be used to reduce the size of tumors prior to surgery, or as the primary treatment when the patient is no a candidate for surgery. Chemotherapy is effective because the toxins have the greatest effect on fast growing cells like the ones found in tumors. Normal, fast growing cells, like the cells of bone marrow, the digestive tract, mouth, stomach, and hair follicles (causing the recognizable hair loss of chemotherapy patients) can also be effected. Common side effects of chemotherapy include anemia, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea, skin rash and pain.

Alimta-Cisplatin Regimen for Malignant Mesothelioma

Alimta combined with the standard drug, Cisplatin, is the first and only chemotherapy regimen to have proven effective at prolonging the life of malignant pleural mesothelioma patients when surgery is not an option. Clinical studies have shown that the average life span of patients who received the regimen was increased by up to 30% as compared to Cisplatin alone. 50.3% of patients receiving the combination survived a year later, while Cisplatin alone had a 38% survival rate within a year. Alimta-Cisplatin is the only drug regimen to be approved by the FDA for non-surgical treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Treatment with Alimta

Alimta is a drug that is administered by a doctor. Frequency and dosages of treatment depend upon the specific case. Patients receiving Alimta treatment are required to begin taking folic acid vitamins 5 to 7 days before treatment to help reduce side effects. The dose of folic acid depends upon the specific case and the advice of a doctor, but standard doses are between 350 and 1000 micrograms (the amount in an average multi-vitamin pill). Patients will usually be required to continue taking folic acid for 21 days after their last cycle of Alimta.

A doctor will also administer a muscular injection of vitamin B-12 during the week prior to treatment. Regular B-12 shots will continue during treatment, and will most likely be given of the same day as Alimta.

An oral steroid known as dexamethasone can reduce skin rash and other side effects. Most Alimta regimens will include a twice daily dose on the day before, day of, and day after treatment. Patients will be asked to stop taking anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen, and refrain from alcohol.

Side effects of Alimta

Vitamin B-12 and folic acid can usually reduce the side effects of Alimta treatment, but there can be severe side effects that may require reducing, suspending, or stopping treatment. Patients may be aware of the side effects in a category known as patient felt toxicities. Some of the most common of these side effects are listed above. If a patient experience these side effects or any other unpleasant reactions he or she should inform the doctor.

Paper toxicities are the category of side effects that a patient may not be aware of. These side effects can include changes in blood cells or asymptotic deterioration of internal organs. Alimta treatment will include regular laboratory tests to monitor the possibility of these side effects.

Patients receiving Alimta-Cisplatin regimen should strictly follow the advice of their doctor. If you or someone you love is receiving this treatment, don’t be afraid to express any problems or concerns with your doctor. Regular and open communication is the best way to reduce and prevent serious side effects of chemotherapy treatment.

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