Chemotherapy according to Cancer types
Chemotherapy for Gallbladder Cancer
Chemo may benefit certain people with cancer of the gallbladder although it is not yet clear how effective it is for this form of cancer. Also, in this way, chemo may be used:
After Surgery to remove cancer: Chemo can be given following Surgery (often with radiation therapy) to try to reduce the chance of cancer returning. This is called adjuvant treatment. Doctors are still not sure how effective it is in the treatment of cancer in the gallbladder. As part of the primary treatment for advanced cancers. Chemo may be used (with or without radiation therapy) for more advanced cancers that can not be removed or have spread to other areas of the body Chemo does not cure such cancers, but it can help people live longer. As a palliative therapy: Chemotherapy can help shrink tumours or delay their growth for a period of time. This can help relieve cancer symptoms, for example by shrinking tumours that press on the nerves can relieve Pain.
Doctors give chemo in cycles, with each treatment period followed by a rest period giving the body time to heal. Chemo cycles usually last around two to four weeks. Chemotherapy is not generally prescribed for patients with poor health.
Hepatic artery infusion (HAI)
Since it is not always effective for gallbladder cancer to administer chemo through a vein (IV), doctors have found a better way to deliver it directly through the main artery that goes through the liver. The artery is called the hepatic artery. Also, the healthy liver removes much of the medication left before it reaches the rest of the body. That can reduce the side effects of the chemo. HAI can help some people whose cancer can not be removed via Surgery live longer, but more work is required. Sometimes this procedure involves Surgery to insert a catheter in the hepatic artery but many people are not well enough to have this Surgery.
Drugs used to treat gallbladder cancer
The chemo drugs most often used for gallbladder cancer include:
In some cases, 2 of these drugs are combined. Combining gemcitabine and cisplatin, for example, can help people live longer than just having gemcitabine on its own. When administering chemo with radiation, capecitabine is most widely used.
Possible chemo side effects
Chemo drugs target rapidly dividing cells and thus they function against cancer cells. However, other cells in the body, such as those in the bone marrow (where new blood cells are made), mouth and intestine lining, and hair follicles, divide rapidly as well. Chemo can damage certain cells, which can result in side effects.
Chemo’s side effects depend on the type and dose of drugs given, and the length of time taken. Its side effects may include:
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased chance of infections (from having too few white blood cells)
- Easy bruising or bleeding (from having too few blood platelets) Fatigue (from having too few red blood cells)
Generally, these side effects are short-term, and go away at the completion of treatment. There are often ways of reducing or even preventing these side effects. Drugs may be prescribed for example to help avoid or reduce Nausea and Vomiting. Be sure to inquire about medications from the doctor or nurse to help avoid side effects.
Some medications can have their own particular side effects, in addition to the potential side effects above. Cisplatin and oxaliplatin, for example, can damage nerves (so-called neuropathy). This, especially in the hands and feet, can cause numbness, tingling, weakness and sensitivity to cold or heat. This goes away in most patients after stopping treatment, but in some cases, the effects can last a long time.
Report to your medical team any side effects that you experience, so that they can be treated immediately. In some cases, the doses of the Chemotherapy may need to be reduced or treatment may need to be delayed or stopped in order to keep the effects worse.