Tag Archives: side effects

To fast or not to fast

TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT…DURING CHEMOTHERAPY To humbly paraphrase Shakespeare, the question is “whether ‘tis better to…ban sugar from your diet, or bulk up on high-protein meals…” The internet is full of raging debates, fervid testimonials and opinions about what you should or shouldn’t eat when you’re being treated for cancer.  One of the most common chat topics is whether you should cut out ‘sugar’ to decrease the amount of “fuel” available for voracious cancer cells. If only cancer, and nutrition, were so simple. But every kind of calorie is fuel, every cell uses fuel, and cells become cancerous in many different ways.   But thankfully, scientists are working hard

Highlights from ASCO 2011

While there weren’t new blockbuster announcements for colorectal cancer this year at the American Society for Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) Annual Meeting, there was plenty of focus on making what we already have work better and on choosing the patients who will benefit the most from treatments, as well as those who might not be helped at all. (Note, many of these issues will be discussed in detail on our upcoming patient webinar.) Highlights: While adding oxaliplatin to 5-FU improves five year survival slightly for stage II colon cancer, it increases side effects, particularly tingling and numbness in the feet.  An analysis of several NSABP trials found that two or three

Effexor Reduces Pain from Cold

Colorectal cancer patients getting oxaliplatin quickly learn to avoid cold. Drinks with ice, chilly air, even opening the freezer can produce sudden, sharp pain, burning, or an unpleasant pins and needle feeling in their throat and hands. A small study has found that venlafaxine (Effexor) can completely eliminate acute neurotoxicity from oxaliplatin in about 1 out of 3 people.  More than half of patients who took it had more than 50 percent relief from symptoms.

Cancer Patients Fatigued Before Treatment Begins

Cancer patients are often very tired, a bone-weary fatigue that doesn’t get better with rest.  Fatigue is the most common complaint from patients during chemotherapy.  However, a recent study found that one in four patients are already severely fatigued before treatment ever begins. Severe fatigue was most common in patients with gastrointestinal cancer, where almost one in three were fatigued at diagnosis.

Several Studies Show Evidence that Chewing Gum Helps After Colon Surgery

Five randomized studies have shown that chewing gum after colon surgery reduces the time it takes for patients to pass gas and have a bowel movement. Patients in the studies chewed sugarless gum from 5 to 45 minutes, three times a day after surgery.  Control groups had similar surgeries but didn’t chew gum. There was a trend toward leaving the hospital sooner, but the studies were too small to definitely show fewer hospital days for the gum chewers. Still, the study authors wrote, The potential cost savings from the reduction of even one postoperative day compared with the cost of several sticks of chewing gum are huge. During intestinal surgery,

FDA Approves Oral Aloxi to Prevent Chemo Nausea and Vomiting

The Food and Drug Administration has approved an oral formulation of Aloxi® (palonosetron) to prevent nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy.  A single 5 milligram capsule reduces the risk of nausea during the first 24 hours after chemotherapy and for up to five days afterwards.  The medicine is taken about an hour before chemotherapy starts.

Allergic Reactions to X-Ray Contrast Can Be Treated without Long Term Problems

Occasionally people having CT scans or other imaging exams will have an allergic-type reaction to the iodine contrast, but research has found that they can be treated safely without long term effects. In fact, almost all reactions are mild and more han 99 percent patients with them will get better within a day. Radiologists at the University of Michigan hospitals in Ann Arbor studied nearly 85,000 intravenous injections of nonionic iodinated contrast media looking for allergic-type reactions.  They analyzed both how the reactions were treated and whether there were any long term problems after a reaction.

Switching from 5FU to Xeloda Can Cause Significant Side Effects

An immediate switch from 5-FU treatment to Xeloda® (capecitabine) for stage III colon cancer caused so much toxicity that a trial designed to test patient preferences for treatment had to be stopped. Patients in the Patient Preference in Adjuvant Therapy (PACT) trial who switched after 6 weeks from weekly 5-FU with leucovorin to oral capecitabine experienced excessive side effects. The trial was designed to determine which approach to treatment patients liked best.

Soft Ice Cream Alternative to Nutritional Drinks

Cancer treatment can make it hard to eat.  Both chemotherapy and radiation treatment can cause mouth sores, dry mouth, or poor appetite. Some patients develop thrush, a fungus infection in their mouths and throats, that makes swallowing very painful. Traditionally canned or powdered nutritional supplement drinks like Ensure® or Boost® have been used to provide support to patients who are having trouble eating during treatment. As an alternative, soft whip ice cream machines were installed on oncology wards in a hospital in the United Kingdom.  The machines served a premium ice cream which had comparable protein to the nutritional drinks.

Preventive Measures Reduce Rash from Vectibix

Nearly all patients who are treated with Vectibix™ (panitumumab) will develop an itchy skin rash that looks something like acne.  However, treating the rash preemptively  before it appears reduces its severity and lengthens the time before more serious rash appears. During the STEPP (Skin Toxicity Evaluation Protocol with Panitumumab) trial, researchers randomized patients who were being treated with Vectibix to either preemptive skin rash management at the beginning of chemotherapy or reactive treatment once rash appeared.  After six weeks, 70 percent of patients treated preemptively had not developed grade 2 skin rash.  Sixty-two percent of the reactive group already had rash that was grade 2 or higher.

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