Gemcitabine is a relatively new chemotherapy drug that is designed to treat pancreas and lung cancer (including pleural mesothelioma).  Certain studies have reported promising results indicating that Gemcitabine, typically used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs, effectively slows the growth of asbestos cancers.

Pleural Mesothelioma

About two thirds of Americans who are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma develop the pleural form of the asbestos related cancer.  Pleural mesothelioma develops after an abundance of asbestos fibers embed themselves into the lining of the lungs.  This lining is called the pleura and provides support for the lungs and the chest cavity.

How Gemcitabine Works

Gemcitabine works by killing rapidly dividing cells within a patient’s body, including cancer cells, with complex chemical reactions.  Doing so effectively slows the growth of asbestos cancers.

Gemcitabine is a clear liquid administered by an infusion that usually takes less than half an hour.  Occasionally it is administered through a central line into a vein near a patient’s collarbone.  Usually it is given once a week so long as the drug appears to be effectively fighting malignant growth.

Gemcitabine Side Effects

The degree and severity of Gemcitabine side effects depend largely on the dosage administered. Side effects of treatment with Gemcitabine sometimes include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • An increased risk of getting infections
  • Tiredness and breathlessness
  • Getting bruises more easily
  • Nausea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Skin rash
  • Fever
  • Swelling in your face, hands and feet
  • Diarrhea or constipation. 
  • Sore mouth or mouth ulcers           
  • Hair thinning           
  • Breathlessness
  • Drowsiness
  • Temporary Loss of fertility
  • Temporary loss of hair

Gemcitabine reduces the effectiveness of a patient’s immune system.  If you are taking Gemcitabine, be sure to avoid contact with people who have colds or other infections.  Also, be sure to keep your doctor informed of any side effects you may be experiencing.

For more information about Gemcitabine and other mesothelioma treatments, please contact Mesothelioma Treatment Centers today.