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Chemo Pills For Lung Cancer

Possible Side Effects Of Chemo For Nsclc

Using Chemotherapy to Treat Lung Cancer

Chemo drugs can cause side effects. These depend on the type and dose of drugs given and how long they are taken. Some common side effects include:

  • Loss of appetite or weight changes
  • Nausea and vomiting

Chemo can also affect the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow, which can lead to:

  • Increased chance of infections
  • Easy bruising or bleeding

These side effects usually go away after treatment is finished. There are often ways to lessen these side effects. For example, drugs can be given to help prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting.

Some drugs can have specific side effects. For example, drugs such as cisplatin, vinorelbine, docetaxel, or paclitaxel can cause nerve damage . This can sometimes lead to symptoms such as pain, burning or tingling sensations, sensitivity to cold, or weakness. In most people this goes away or gets better once treatment is stopped, but it may last a long time in others.

Be sure to report any side effects you notice during chemo to your medical team so that they can be treated promptly. In some cases, the doses of the chemo drugs may need to be reduced or treatment may need to be delayed or stopped to prevent the effects from getting worse.

Remission And The Chance Of Recurrence

A remission is when cancer cannot be detected in the body and there are no symptoms. This may also be called having no evidence of disease or NED.

A remission may be temporary or permanent. This uncertainty causes many people to worry that the cancer will come back. While many remissions are permanent, it is important to talk with your doctor about the possibility of the cancer returning. Understanding your risk of recurrence and the treatment options may help you feel more prepared if the cancer does return. Learn more about coping with the fear of recurrence.

If the cancer returns after the original treatment, it is called recurrent cancer. It may come back in the same place , nearby , or in another place . Most often, when there is recurrence, it is stage IV disease.

When there is a recurrence, a new cycle of testing will begin again to learn as much as possible about the recurrence. After this testing is done, you and your doctor will talk about the treatment options. Often the treatment plan will include the treatments described above such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, but they may be used in a different combination or given at a different pace. Your doctor may suggest clinical trials that are studying new ways to treat this type of recurrent cancer. Whichever treatment plan you choose, palliative care will be important for relieving symptoms and side effects.

Will The Nhs Fund An Unlicensed Medicine If My Doctor Wants To Prescribe It

Your doctor can prescribe a medicine outside its licensed use if they’re willing to take personal responsibility for this “off-licence” use of the medicine.

Your local integrated care board may need to be involved, as it would have to decide whether to support your doctors decision and pay for the medication from NHS budgets.

Page last reviewed: 15 August 2019 Next review due: 15 August 2022

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Disadvantages Of Oral Chemotherapy

One of the biggest disadvantages of oral chemotherapy is the fact that its not administered in a hospital or hospital-like setting, or by a healthcare professional. This means that users may run the risk of forgetting to take their medication or doing so incorrectly.

According to an older 2012 study , the longer a persons oral chemotherapy treatment lasts, the more likely a person is to eventually discontinue use of the drug without the guidance of their doctor. This can lead to treatment being less effective, worsening side effects, and high dosages if pills are taken closely together.

One other disadvantage of oral chemotherapy is that the pills can be extremely dangerous. According to the

Before starting chemotherapy, youll have an opportunity to consult with a doctor. This is a good time to ask questions and discuss your concerns.

Chemotherapy Drugs Used To Treat Nsclc

Can Cancer Patients Really Get

The chemo drugs most often used for NSCLC include:

Combinations of 2 chemo drugs are often used to treat early-stage lung cancer. If a combination is used, it often includes cisplatin or carboplatin plus one other drug. Sometimes other combinations that do not include these drugs, such as gemcitabine with vinorelbine or paclitaxel, may be used.

Advanced lung cancer though may be treated with a single chemo drug especially for people who might not tolerate combination chemotherapy well, such as those in poor overall health or who are elderly.

For some people with advanced lung cancer, a targeted therapy drug or an immunotherapy drug may be given along with chemotherapy. For more on this, see Treatment Choices for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, by Stage.

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Coping And Supporting Your Body

Good nutrition is an essential part of staying strong during chemo treatments. Some people include complementary treatments such as nutritional supplements into their diets.

Discuss any supplement use while undergoing chemo with your oncologist before doing so. Certain supplements can decrease the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs for lung cancer, while others may make the medication toxic.

As for side effects, you may have few or you may have severe reactions to your medication. These can improve or worsen over time.

Sometimes a medication may need to be changed, but often there are medications and treatments that can control your symptoms and make you more comfortable.

Some ways to manage side effects include:

  • Anti-nausea medications: These are given preventatively with some chemo drugs so that you may never feel sick to your stomach. Other times they are offered on an as-needed basis.
  • Good oral hygiene: This is imperative to manage mouth sores and prevent oral infections.
  • Iron supplements: These may be prescribed to offset anemia and fatigue, but the first course of treatment is to get rest and alter your lifestyle. Fighting cancer will require you to slow down.
  • Brain exercises: To combat the hazy-mind feeling and forgetfulness that can occur with chemobrain, some people make an effort to keep their mind engaged by doing crossword puzzles or other stimulating activities.

Complementary And Alternative Medications

Complementary and alternative medications used to treat lung cancers are wellness methods that are not considered standard medical cancer treatment. Most methods have not been studied in clinical trials or across broad populations for their effectiveness. However, in conjunction with a treatment plan recommended by a doctor, these therapies may offer relief for some patients and their loved ones.

Complementary medication is a medicine that may be taken in addition to ongoing treatments, such as:

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What Medications Are Prescribed To Treat Lung Cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for approving new medications for the treatment of lung cancer. Typically, drugs are approved to treat a specific type of lung cancer . Some medications are only approved for use after other treatments have failed or stopped working .

Overall, the platinum-based chemo medications cisplatin and carboplatin are the most broadly prescribed drugs in the treatment of lung cancers. Chemotherapy may be used to treat several stages and types of lung cancer.

Treatment By Stage Of Nsclc

Chemotherapy/Immunotherapy Combinations in Lung Cancer

Different treatments may be recommended for each stage of NSCLC. Below is a general overview. Your doctor will work with you to develop a specific treatment plan based on the cancer’s stage and other factors. Detailed descriptions of each type of treatment are provided earlier on this page. Clinical trials may also be a treatment option for each stage.

Stage I and II NSCLC

In general, stage I and stage II NSCLC are treated with surgery. Surgeons cure many people with an operation. Before or after surgery, a patient may also meet with a medical oncologist. Some people with a large tumor or signs that the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes may benefit from chemotherapy. Chemotherapy may be given before the surgery, called neoadjuvant chemotherapy or induction chemotherapy. Chemotherapy may also be given after surgery, called adjuvant chemotherapy, to reduce the chance that the cancer will return.

For patients with stage I or II lung cancer who cannot or prefer not to undergo surgery, radiation therapy, such as stereotactic ablative radiotherapy or stereotactic body radiotherapy , may be offered.


More than 30,000 people are diagnosed with stage III NSCLC every year, and there is no single best treatment for all of these patients. Treatment options depend on the size and location of the tumor and the lymph nodes that are involved.The options generally include:

  • Radiation therapy

  • Targeted therapy

Metastatic or stage IV NSCLC

Treatment for brain metastases

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How Chemotherapy Works

Chemotherapy medications work by killing rapidly dividing cells. Since cancer cells divide quicker than most cells, they are particularly susceptible to these drugs.

Different chemotherapy medications work at different stages of cell division. For this reason, two or more medications are often given at the same time to kill as many cancer cells as possible. This is known as combination chemotherapy.

Combining chemo medications offers several benefits. These chemo combinations can:

  • Decrease the chance that tumors will become resistant to treatment
  • Attack the cancer with everything early on rather than waiting to see which one drug will be most effective
  • Target different aspects of the cancer cells all at once
  • Address the fact that cancer cells continually change and different cells may respond to different drugs
  • Be more powerful together than one drug used alone

How Nsclc Is Treated

In cancer care, different types of doctors often work together to create a patients overall treatment plan that combines different types of treatments. This is called a multidisciplinary team. Cancer care teams include a variety of other health care professionals, such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, counselors, dietitians, and others.

There are 5 main ways to treat NSCLC:

  • Targeted therapy

The common types of treatments used for NSCLC are described below, followed by an outline of the common treatment plans by stage. Your care plan also includes treatment for symptoms and side effects, an important part of cancer care.

Treatment options and recommendations depend on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, and the patients preferences and overall health. Take time to learn about all of your treatment options and be sure to ask questions about things that are unclear. Talk with your doctor about the goals of each treatment and what you can expect while receiving the treatment. These types of talks are called shared decision-making. Shared decision-making is when you and your doctors work together to choose treatments that fit the goals of your care. Shared decision-making is particularly important for NSCLC because there are different treatment options. Learn more about making treatment decisions.

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How They Are Given

Some chemotherapy medications are given as an oral pill, but most are given intravenously.

If you will be having IV chemotherapy, you may be asked to make a choice between having an IV placed at each visit or having a chemotherapy port placed. With a port, an intravenous line is threaded into the large blood vessels near the top of the chest, and a small metal or plastic device is placed under your skin.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, yet a port can reduce the number of needle sticks necessary during treatment.

The initial chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer usually involves a combination of two or more drugs. These are often given in cycles of three to four weeks at least four to six times.

A combination of drugs that work at different phases of cell division increases the chance of treating as many cancer cells as possible. Since different cells are all on different timing in the process, repeated sessions also increase the chance of treating more cancer cells.

What You Need To Know

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  • Treatment for lung cancer varies according to age, type of cancer, extent of disease, tolerance to medication and patient preference.
  • Treatment options include a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy.

Specific treatment for lung cancer will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Age, overall health and medical history
  • The type of lung cancer
  • Extent of the disease
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference

Depending on its type and stage, lung cancer may be treated with surgery, chemotherapy or other medications, radiation therapy, local treatments such as laser therapy, or a combination of treatments. Combination treatment or multimodality treatment refers to having more than one type of treatment.

Treatment for lung cancer includes one or more of the following approaches.

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Possible Side Effects Of Chemotherapy For Sclc

Chemo drugs can cause side effects. These depend on the type and dose of drugs given and how long they are taken. Some common side effects of chemo include:

Chemo can also affect the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow, which can lead to:

  • Increased chance of infections
  • Easy bruising or bleeding

These side effects usually go away after treatment, but there are also often ways to lessen them. For example:

  • Drugs can be given to help prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • Drugs can be used to help prevent or treat low blood cell counts . Trilaciclib is one example, although other drugs known as growth factors can be used as well.

Some drugs can have specific side effects. For example:

  • Drugs such as cisplatin and carboplatin can damage nerve endings. This is called peripheral neuropathy. It can sometimes lead to symptoms such as pain, burning or tingling sensations, sensitivity to cold or heat, or weakness. In most people this goes away or gets better after treatment is stopped, but it may last a long time in some people.
  • Cisplatin can also cause kidney damage. To help prevent this, doctors give lots of IV fluids before and after each dose of the drug is given.

Be sure to report any side effects you notice during chemo to your medical team so that they can be treated promptly. In some cases, the doses of the chemo drugs may need to be reduced or treatment may need to be delayed or stopped to prevent the effects from getting worse.

Chemotherapy And Lung Cancer

There are several treatment options for lung cancer patients. These include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and targeted treatments like immunotherapy among others. Chemotherapy is the primary treatment option for lung cancer patients and encompasses several types of medications that doctors and researchers have developed over the years. Specifically, medications meant to kill or shrink cancer tumors. These drugs can be administered alone or in combination with other medications and/or primary treatments. Some lung cancer therapies can even be administered alongside new or emerging treatments if the doctor recommends it.

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Are You Ready To Start Your Oral Or Topical Chemo

Here are some things you may want to talk to your cancer care team about when starting oral or topical chemo:

  • Whats the name of the chemo? Is there more than one name for the same drug?
  • How do I use it or take it?
  • When should I use it or take it?
  • Is it safe to take it with other drugs, food, vitamins, herbs, supplements, skin lotions, or other treatments I use?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • How should I store it?
  • Is there a special way it needs to be handled to protect me and others?
  • What do you expect it to do?
  • What are the likely side effects? What should I do if I have side effects?
  • How can I get in touch with you if I have trouble late at night or on the weekend?
  • How long will I need to take the chemo?
  • Will my insurance pay for my chemo? If not, how much will it cost? How will I pay for it?
  • Will my other health problems stop me from being able to take the chemo the way I should? Is there a chance my other health problems could make me forget to take my chemo?
  • Will you be calling me to find out how Im doing with the chemo?
  • How often will you need to see me in person?

For oral chemo, be sure to also ask about certain questions about the pills, such as:

  • What if I have trouble swallowing or keeping down the pills?
  • Can they be opened, broken, or crushed?
  • Can I mix it with food or liquid to take it?

Before starting chemo, talk to your doctor or nurse about any concerns or questions you have. Get answers to all of your questions about chemo before you start taking it.

Chemo Treatments: What To Expect

New pill offers hope for some people with lung cancer l GMA

For lung cancer, chemotherapy is usually an intravenous treatment. You may get a quick shot into your vein or an infusion of the drug through a tube, which can take longer. Youâll get it either in your doctorâs office, clinic, or hospital. You rest while the drugs drip into your vein.

You get chemo in cycles of 3 to 4 weeks. Between cycles, you can rest and recover. You may take your drug only once a week or over a few days of each cycle. If your cancer is advanced, you may need four to six cycles of treatment.

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