An A-To-Z Guide To Chemotherapy Side Effects

An A-To-Z Guide To Chemotherapy Side Effects...

AN A-Z GUIDE TO CHEMOTHERAPY SIDE EFFECTS

By: Ralph Moss, Ph.D (www.cancerdecisions.com)
(Portion of speech to the German Society of Oncology (DGO) Baden-Baden, Germany September 30, 2000)

Hi would like to say a word about the side effects of chemotherapy. These are often described as “tolerable” or “acceptable” in the medical literature. However, I have compiled a small A-to-Z guide to what chemotherapy can do the human body. (The drugs that follow in parenthesis are examples, but are hardly all-inclusive of which drugs cause which symptoms.) It is clear that anticancer drugs are among the most dangerous ever deliberately introduced into the human body for therapeutic purposes.

A

Aches and pains
Allergic reactions (Adriamycin, etc.)
Alopecia-hair loss and thinning (almost all agents)
Altered taste (mesna)
Anemia
Anorexia (allopurinol)
Antihormonal effects (finasteride, fluatmide, leuprolide, tamoxifen, gosserelin)

B

Blurred vision (suramin)
Bone and joint pain (isotretinoin)

C

Cancer (new malignancies as long-term side effects, esp. with alkylating agents)
Cardiotoxicity (cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, Adriamycin)
Central nervous system toxicity (methotrexate)
Chronic pain
Conjunctivitis (pentostatin)
Constipation
Cystitis (cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide)

D

Depression
Diarrhea (ara-C)
Drowsiness

E

Emesis
Extreme respiratory distress (Herceptin)

F

Fatigue
Fluid retention (Taxotere)

G

Gallstones (octreotide)
Gynacomastia in males

H

Hemmorhage (cyclophosphamide)
Hepatotoxicity (chlorambucil, DTIC, topotecan)
Hives
Hyperpigmentation (bleomycin)
Hypersensitivity reactions

I

Increased secretion of sebaceous glands (octreotide)

J

Jaw pain (vincristine)

K

Kalemia, both hyper- and hypo-

L

Leukemia (as long-term side effect)
Leukopenia
M

Myelosuppression
Myocardial ischemia (BCNU)

N

Nausea
Nephrotoxicity (renal system) (cisplatin, cyclophosphamide, DTIC, ifosfamide)
Neurotoxicity (ifosfamide, vinblastine, vincristine, etoposide, 5-FU, etc.)
Neutropenia (bone marrow damage)
Nose bleeds (isotretinoin)

O

Optic atrophy (vincristine)
Ototoxicity (cisplatin)

P

Photophobia (pentostatin)
Paralytic ileus (vinblastine)
Peripheral neuropathy (vinorelbine)
Phlebitis (BCNU, docetaxel)
Proteinuria (suramin)
Pulmonary fibrosis and toxicity and respiratory distress (esp. bleomycin, busulfan, carmustine, cyclophosphamide)

Q

Quality of life, diminished or destroyed

R

Red urine (daunorubicin, doxorubicin) or orange urine (amonafide)

S

Stress
Seizures (BCNU)
Skin desquamation (paclitaxel)
Sterility and reproductive system dysfunction such as menstrual and spermatogenesis dysfunction (busulfan, chlorambucil, cyclophosphamide, vincristine)
Stomatitis (nitrogen mustard, chlorambucil, etc.)

T

Taste perversion (taxotere)
Thrombocytopenia (esp. mitomycin and nitrosureas)
Tumor lysis syndrome (fludarabine)

U

Ulcerations of GI tract (5-FU)
Urticaria (paclitaxel)

V

Visual disturbance (mitotane)
Vomiting (severe with nitrogen mustard)
Venoocclusive disease (high-dose busulfan)

W

Weakness (vinorelbine)
Weight loss
Wheezing (leucovorin)

X

Xerostomia (isotretinoin)
X-ray or radiation recall: dermatitis in previously irradiated areas (dactinomycin)

Y

Yeast infections

Z

Zoladex-induced testicular atrophy
Zubrod Performance Status Scale decline

Finally, the following news item speaks for itself. It comes from the New York Times website (10/12/00):

“Genentech, Inc. on Wednesday reported a 27 percent gain in third-quarter profits driven by sales of cancer drugs, Herceptin and Rituxan. Third-quarter sales of Herceptin increased 52%, to $72.6 million. Sales of Rituxan increased 62 percent, to $117.9 million.”

In other words, just this one pharmaceutical company is now making over US $750,000,000 from the sale of two of its anticancer agents. Although the world economy is unreliable, the prediction I made at the German Society of Oncology meeting in 1997 that the cancer chemotherapy market would reach $13.8 billion by the end of the millennium now seems like a serious underestimation.

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