David Margileth, MD One of the major concerns with women going on chemotherapy is the question, what are the shortterm side effects So let’s discuss what those are and what we try to do about them. The shortterm side effects that women worry most about is nausea and vomiting. With the new antinausea medicines that we use intravenously prior to each chemotherapy such as drugs like Aloxi or Emend have made nausea and vomiting 90 less than they used to be. So, patients are, for the most part, pleasantly surprised that nausea and vomiting is not a major issue.
The other issue is infections, and if we are on a chemotherapy that causes low white counts, we have drugs such as Neulasta and Neupogen that will keep those white counts normal and thus avoid infectious complications and potential hospitalization. Other effects, fatigue can be an issue. Obviously, hair loss on some chemotherapies can be an issue. Toward the middle or the end of some chemotherapies with drugs known as Taxanes, peripheral neuropathy can become an issue and that is numbness and tingling of the fingers and toes, and we don’t.
Want that to progress to more nerve damage, so that is something on a longer regimen with Taxol or Taxotere, we always ask, are you having numbness and tingling and if so we will modify the regimen so that the patient does not end up with a long term peripheral neuropathy. Mouth sores or these ulcerlike sores that we used to commonly see with chemotherapy really are not much of an issue anymore with Neulasta. So, those are the major things and I think most women are again pleasantly surprised that this is not nearly as awful as they think.