Source: Eli Lilly
The Alimta/Cisplatin chemotherapy regimen is the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved treatment specifically for malignant pleural mesothelioma. This is currently considered the most effective first-line treatment for mesothelioma patients who are not surgical candidates. A multi-targeted antifolate drug, Alimta works by blocking the enzymes necessary for DNA copying and cell division. During the clinical trial process, Alimta/Cisplatin improved median survival for pleural mesothelioma patients by approximately three months over treatment with Cisplatin as a single agent. Click here for a History of Alimta.
As with any medical treatment, it is important to discuss the use of Alimta with your doctor. This conversation should include all pertinent information regarding effectiveness, administration and possible side effects of the drug combination. It is also important to begin vitamin supplementation of B12 by injection during the week prior to treatment (to be repeated every 9 weeks), and folic acid by mouth daily (to be continued until 21 days after the last cycle of Alimta). Additionally, you will be given an oral steroid medication to minimize the risk of skin rash or other possible side effects. Your doctor will have information on the correct dosages of each medication. Be sure to tell your doctor of any other medications you are taking (including non-prescription drugs) so he may be aware of any adverse interactions.
Alimta/Cisplatin is administered to patients on an outpatient basis every 21 days. This cycle of treatment involves a 10-minute IV infusion of Alimta followed by a 2 hour infusion of Cisplatin. How many cycles of treatment you receive will be dependent on your response rate to the drug (regression of the tumor or halt to progression of the disease) and the side effects you might experience.
Side effects of Alimta/Cisplatin are mild to moderate for most mesothelioma patients, i.e., nausea, vomiting and fatigue, and can usually be managed by your doctor. For some patients, however, side effects may be debilitating, and may require a decrease in dosage or removal from the program. All potential side effects should be mentioned to your doctor. Never assume any complaint is minor.