Chemotherapy and Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma cancer cells take over by dividing and multiplying at a rapid pace, far quicker than most normal cells in the body. When cells replicate at such speeds, the process may cause irregular growth or tumors to form, causing cancer. Doctor’s treat mesothelioma patients with chemotherapy medications that either slow rapidly dividing cells down, or completely disrupt the cell-division process all-together. Depending on the patient’s unique condition, a doctor can decide to administer the chemotherapy a couple of different ways:
Systematically – A less invasive method of chemotherapy where medication is delivered intravenously, or in pill form. This method can destroy both cancerous and healthy cells, causing adverse side-effects.
Intraoperatively – Treatment is delivered surgically and directly to the affected parts of the body, harming less healthy cells. Intrapleural chemotherapy and heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) are the two most common forms of intraoperative chemotherapy.
Your doctor may perform tests to decide on the type of chemotherapy that’s right for you. How far along your mesothelioma is, current health, and your health history are primary deciding factors.
How HIPEC Treatment Works
Depending on the location of cancer in a patient’s body, it can be challenging to treat. Peritoneal mesothelioma is one such cancer, as it’s located in the lining surfaces of the abdominal cavity. When this is the case, the chance of chemotherapy being successful is much lower, with side-effects being severe.
Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) is an option that can be available for peritoneal mesothelioma patients, offering fewer side-effects and a more targeted approach at destroying the cancer cells. This procedure occurs after a surgeon has already removed all visible lesions and tumors, subsequently injecting the heated chemo medication into the abdominal cavity, killing the remaining tumors. Since this method improves medication retention and has minimal exposure to the healthy cells of the patient’s body, the majority of chemotherapy side-effects can be avoided.
Are You Eligible for HIPEC Chemotherapy?
A few factors can eliminate a patient of their eligibility to undergo HIPEC chemotherapy for their peritoneal mesothelioma. Ultimately, your doctor will determine if this treatment is the best course of action for fighting the disease, based on a few things. Factors that will disqualify a patient from the procedure are:
- Having a serious chronic illness
- Retaining high-risk of tumor growth
- Not having an epithelial cell type
- Failing to be in good health for surgery
HIPEC Treatment Timeline
HIPEC treatment involves a few processes before completion. After the doctor has reviewed the patient and established eligibility for treatment, the next steps in the HIPEC chemotherapy process include:
Step 1 – Surgery
Before a doctor administers HIPEC chemotherapy medications to the patient, the surgeon must perform cytoreductive surgery. This is a procedure that reduces the size of cancerous tumors within the abdomen. After the doctor has removed as many tumors as possible, the next portion of treatment can begin.
Step 2 – Bath
The “bath” process occurs when the doctor surgically administers chemotherapy drugs directly into the patient’s abdominal cavity, or intraperitoneally. The solution contains the chemotherapeutic agent and is heated to a degree above the average body temperature (about the temperature of bathwater), making it hyperthermic. Next, the surgeon will circulate the heated sterile solution throughout the peritoneal cavity for a maximum time of two hours. Finally, the solution can work to kill the remaining mesothelioma cells.
Step 3 – Recovery
The recovery process after undergoing cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC can take several weeks, with patients feeling fatigued approximately 8-12 weeks following the procedure. It’s essential to get enough rest during the recovery process, but the patients must also try to remain active and move around often. Doctors usually advise patients to continue doing activities they enjoy, while sticking to their predetermined goals. These actions help patients realize how far they’ve come to recovery and fosters a more positive outlook.
Benefits and Side-Effects of HIPEC Surgery
HIPEC chemotherapy has several advantages that peritoneal mesothelioma patients don’t usually get with other chemotherapeutic options. The HIPEC surgery benefits patients by:
- Allowing higher doses of chemotherapy
- Streamlining chemo medications directly into abdomen cavity lining
- Reducing exposure of chemo medication to healthy cells
- Increasing chemotherapy intake and sensitivity to cancer cells
- Lowering chemo side-effects
While the side-effects of HIPEC chemotherapy are less severe than other types of chemo, a patient may still undergo adverse side-effects. Potential side-effects include:
- Infection and healing issues
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Hair loss (very rare)
HIPEC Chemotherapy Treatment Center Locations
There are a limited number of locations that administer HIPEC chemotherapy due to the intricacy of cytoreductive surgery and lack of specialists in the HIPEC procedure. Fortunately, there are resources available for patients to locate HIPEC treatment centers nearest to them. It’s as simple as entering your zip code and search radius.
If you’re being treated for mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation to assist with medical bills and other expenses. Fill out this form for a free case evaluation today.