Doxorubicin is one of the oldest chemotherapy drugs that has been used to treat mesothelioma. It has been tested in combination with other drugs and for intraoperative use in more recent trials.
Treating Mesothelioma With Doxorubicin
Doxorubicin is one of the most heavily researched mesothelioma chemotherapy drugs and also one of the oldest. Although still used for treating mesothelioma patients, its use is far less common since the development of better-performing drugs. Doxorubicin also goes under the brand names of Adriamycin and Doxil.
Survival rates for patients where doxorubicin was used alone have been generally low. It is usually used for inoperable late stage patients. Doxorubicin has also proven to provide some survival benefit when combined with other drugs.
This chemotherapy drug carries some potentially serious side effects, so specialists typically only use doxorubicin if a patient isn’t responding to standard chemotherapy. Common side effects are hair loss, nausea and vomiting.
Doxorubicin has been continuously tested in clinical trials. Mesothelioma patients should exercise caution in signing up for trials that include doxorubicin because it may exclude them from trials in which being treated with standard chemotherapy is required for eligibility.
What Is Doxorubicin?
Doxorubicin was approved over 30 years ago as a chemotherapeutic agent. It is most commonly used to treat blood cancers and leukemia, but also many types of solid tumors.
As one of the oldest approved chemotherapy drugs, it is unsurprising that this drug has been extensively researched for mesothelioma. It has been used in multiple applications and combinations with other drugs, including:
- Cisplatin and cyclophosphamide
- Valproate acid (anticonvulsant and mood-stabilizer)
- Tamoxifen (commonly used in breast cancers)
Doxorubicin is a red liquid chemotherapy drug that is administered both intravenously and intraoperatively. Inhalation of the drug has also been tested. It is used for both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma patients. It’s an antineoplastic drug, meaning it interferes with cancer growth by preventing DNA replication and prevents metastasis.
Doxorubicin is sometimes combined with the chemotherapy drug cisplatin for use during surgery. Doctors use this combination to “bathe” the area where tumors were removed to kill any microscopic cancer cells left over. It has been used for patients having an abdominal cytoreduction and those having an extrapleural pneumonectomy.
Inoperable Late Stage Patients
This chemotherapy drug is sometimes used as the first line of treatment for patients with advanced mesothelioma. Some studies have demonstrated impressive results when doxorubicin is combined with another chemotherapy drug.
One of the biggest issues with mesothelioma is that many patients don’t respond to chemotherapy. Doxorubicin may be given as an alternative in these cases. One clinical trial is testing the effect of doxorubicin and valproate acid in patients not responding to standard chemotherapy.