Chemotherapy for mesothelioma

Chemotherapy means using powerful medications to destroy cancer cells.

If you have chemotherapy, the medications go straight into your blood stream to attack the cancer cells wherever they are, including outside your lung. There’s evidence that the most effective chemotherapy drug is pemetrexed, also called Alimta, in combination with a second drug, usually cisplatin, or carboplatin in less fit patients.

However, chemotherapy also affects normal cells, which means short-term side effects are common. These might include nausea, anaemia (when your body doesn’t have enough iron) and hair loss. You might also have an increased risk of infection. Your specialist doctor will try to reduce these side effects as much as possible.

You may have chemotherapy medications through a drip (a device that slowly puts fluid into your vein), or as injections or tablets. You usually have two courses or cycles of chemotherapy, and then have another CT scan to see how you’re responding to the treatment. If the chemotherapy is working, you might be given a course every three weeks, with four to six courses in total.

Other treatments for mesothelioma:

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Last medically reviewed: November 2017. Due for review: November 2020

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.