What is the role of chemotherapy in the treatment of cystic echinococcosis (CE)?

Updated: May 07, 2019
  • Author: Imad S Dandan, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

Note the following:

  • Indications: Chemotherapy is indicated in patients with primary liver or lung cysts that are inoperable (because of location or medical condition), patients with cysts in 2 or more organs, and peritoneal cysts.

  • Contraindications: Early pregnancy, bone marrow suppression, chronic hepatic disease, large cysts with the risk of rupture, and inactive or calcified cysts are contraindications. A relative contraindication is bone cysts because of the significantly decreased response.

  • Chemotherapeutic agents: Two benzimidazoles are used, albendazole and mebendazole. Albendazole is administered in several 1-month oral doses (10-15 mg/kg/d) separated by 14-day intervals. New data for continuous treatment are emerging from China. The optimal period of treatment ranges from 3-6 months, with no further increase in the incidence of adverse effects if this period is prolonged. Mebendazole is also administered for 3-6 months orally in dosages of 40-50 mg/kg/d. Limited data are available on the weekly use of praziquantel, an isoquinoline derivative, at a dose of 40 mg/kg/wk, especially in cases in which intraoperative spillage has occurred. Albendazole has been found ineffective in the treatment of primary liver cysts in patients who are surgical candidates. [9]

  • Monitoring: Monitor patients for adverse effects of agents every 2 weeks with a complete blood cell (CBC) count and liver enzyme evaluation for the first 3 months and then every 4 weeks. Monitoring albendazole and mebendazole serum levels is desirable, but few laboratories are capable of performing this measurement. Imaging studies are required for follow-up on the morphologic status of the cyst.

  • Outcome from medical treatment of CE: Response rates in 1000 treated patients showed that 30% had cyst disappearance (cure), 30%-50% had a decrease in the size of the cyst (improvement), and 20%-40% had no changes. Also, younger adults responded better than older adults.


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