CSN Login
Members Online: 5

ARE CHEMO PILLS EFFECTIVE?

minibull
Posts: 53
Joined: Oct 2009

Hi Everyone,

I finally went to see my onc today and I need some advice from this experienced board.
He said I had a 30% chance of recurrence if I didn't have any treatment, 18% with pills and 12% with chemo drip. With only a 6% difference between the pills and drip, do you think it's worth it to do the drip? I'm not sure about the side effects of the pills - didn't talk much about it to him but he said it's not as effective as the drip. However, I also have Hep B and the drip might compromise my liver so don't know if I have a choice until I speak to my hepatologist. Any thoughts? He also said he doesn't think that changing my diet would have much bearing on recurrences since I already have the cancer and that the diet is mostly a preventative measure before having cancer. Oh, this cancer really sucks! So much confusion and decisions to make!

Laureen

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4672
Joined: May 2005

Many issues here. I would do whatever I could to reduce my chances of a recurrence. I do not know anything about the pills since I've never taken them for chemo. Do they cause any liver issues at all or is it just the chemo drip that does? It is certianly something to consider if that is the case. As far as your diet goes, I think that a tiny bit of what your doctor said is correct but you certainly can not do harm by watching what you eat and eating healthier. True, you have/had cancer so it won't stop you from getting what you already have had but having a crappy diet of fried food has to be worse than a diet that includes more fruits and veggies.

Cancer certainly does suck, there are many things to decide but I always do whatever I can to lessen the chance of things getting worse. I feel that if I take a short cut and things get worse thaen I'd always go back to "if I only..." and I don't want to play that game.
All the best!
-phil

keepthink3
Posts: 15
Joined: Jun 2009

I can't really answer your question but I too am or was taking the pills. I just finished eight rounds of the pills. I started off with the drip and radiation but the combination put me in the hospital for two weeks. But I wondered if the pills were just as effective. My Oncologist said if I'm remembering right, that they were just as good. Will ask again now that this has come up at next visit.

CanadaSue's picture
CanadaSue
Posts: 339
Joined: Apr 2006

Laureen,

My hubby Bill (stage 4) has refused to go back on the drip because of the side effects.
He is currently on 5200mg of Xeloda per day (high dosage). His only side effect from this is mild nausea, his blood levels remain good, where as when he was on the drip (Folfiri) his treatments were delayed because his blood levels would take a beating.

Bill just had a scan and the results were good. The 2 tumors in his liver are stable, the nodules on the lungs - some have disappeared, some have shrunk, and the rest have not increased in size, and the same goes for the lymph-nodes in the abdomin.

Bill also asked our onc if he should change anything in his diet, and she told him no.

Hope this helps.

Hugs,

Sue

Paula G.'s picture
Paula G.
Posts: 596
Joined: Apr 2009

Hi Laureen,
My husband had 14 rounds of Folfox. He had to stop the Oxy due to a bad reaction and treatments 9 thru 14 were without Oxy. His Onc put him on Xeloda ( pill form of 5-FU) he has just started his second cycle. He takes 5 pills twice a day. His Onc said that in some cases she has seen better results with the pills.

I will tell you that my husband has developed the hand and foot thing. It is pretty painful. Just in his feet right now. I just called his Onc to see if the dose needs to be reduced. He says he feels better on the pills than he did the pump. I would go with what your Onc thinks will do the job the best. Good luck, Paula

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

Show that Xeloda or 5-FU are very comparable for end results. I'm not sure where your onc gets that big difference between them.

Research them both, and do what you think is best for you. Just know that even if you do have a lot of side effects you still have to make yourself take the pills on schedule. That can be hard to do for some people. I have a friend who has been on Xeloda over a year for pancreatic cancer with great success and very few side effects. But I know others have more trouble with blood counts or hand and foot trouble.

I think both drugs will affect your liver - look into that.

I disagree about changing your diet - depending on what it was before. It is never a bad idea to eat healthy. The healthier you can keep your body, the more strength you have for the fight.

I know there is a lot of information to wade through and it is overwhelming. But consider it your job right now, so you can make the best informed decision for you personally. Good luck to you!

snommintj's picture
snommintj
Posts: 602
Joined: Mar 2009

You should tolerate the pump pretty well for the first few times. Try to get three or four treatments, see how it goes. This isn't an either or kind of decision. If after the pump you don't feel like you can handle it, switch to the pills. There won't be any lag time between cycles. I have had very good results with the pump, but I am nearing the end of their efficacy. I switched to xeloda and it seems to be working pretty well. I haven't experienced any side effects after two full cycles. But I didn't have any side effects from the pump for the first two cycles either. Good Luck

PGLGreg's picture
PGLGreg
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

Laureen asks: "With only a 6% difference between the pills and drip, do you think it's worth it to do the drip?"

Yes. That's a big difference. Many people decide to have further treatment after surgery for stage 2 CR cancer, and the benefit for that is sometimes estimated at 3%, and the downside there for side effects is substantial. You might have no more side effects with the drip. Try it and see.

--Greg

KATE58's picture
KATE58
Posts: 300
Joined: Nov 2009

Iam 4th stage metastatic colorectal, after 2 rounds of folfox and avastin,I had no visible cancer. and an 85 percent chance of recurrance .I was put on xeloda pills-1000mg in the morn 1500 at night it kept me tumour free for a year. the doctors said I will never be cured but they can keep me from getting worse.I did not have any nausea like with the infusion.The bottoms of my feet peeled and I couldn't go bearfoot (too sensitive)but compared to the infusion,I felt much better.It is not as agressive as the infusion.My doctors said they would give them to me as 'maintenence' or in addition to infusion,in place of the 48 hr 5fu pump. I also have hep and I asked my GI drs about taking milk thistle(silybum marianum)and he told me that alot of the top liver guys are reallycoming round to the fact that it does protect the liver.Good luck!!
KATE

KATE58's picture
KATE58
Posts: 300
Joined: Nov 2009

Iam 4th stage metastatic colorectal, after 2 rounds of folfox and avastin,I had no visible cancer. and an 85 percent chance of recurrance .I was put on xeloda pills-1000mg in the morn 1500 at night it kept me tumour free for a year. the doctors said I will never be cured but they can keep me from getting worse.I did not have any nausea like with the infusion.The bottoms of my feet peeled and I couldn't go bearfoot (too sensitive)but compared to the infusion,I felt much better.It is not as agressive as the infusion.My doctors said they would give them to me as 'maintenence' or in addition to infusion,in place of the 48 hr 5fu pump. I also have hep and I asked my GI drs about taking milk thistle(silybum marianum)and he told me that alot of the top liver guys are reallycoming round to the fact that it does protect the liver.Good luck!!
KATE

KATE58's picture
KATE58
Posts: 300
Joined: Nov 2009

Iam 4th stage metastatic colorectal, after 2 rounds of folfox and avastin,I had no visible cancer. and an 85 percent chance of recurrance .I was put on xeloda pills-1000mg in the morn 1500 at night it kept me tumour free for a year. the doctors said I will never be cured but they can keep me from getting worse.I did not have any nausea like with the infusion.The bottoms of my feet peeled and I couldn't go bearfoot (too sensitive)but compared to the infusion,I felt much better.It is not as agressive as the infusion.My doctors said they would give them to me as 'maintenence' or in addition to infusion,in place of the 48 hr 5fu pump. I also have hep and I asked my GI drs about taking milk thistle(silybum marianum)and he told me that alot of the top liver guys are reallycoming round to the fact that it does protect the liver.Good luck!!
KATE

usakat's picture
usakat
Posts: 626
Joined: Jul 2006

For me with Stage III colon cancer Xeloda/Leucovorin/Oxaliplatin was effective for me - I'm approaching three years cancer free in January. John makes a good point, it's not an either / or situation. You can start one and change to the other. If you are Stage II with clear surgical margins, I would think the pills would be fine, only if your doctor agrees and fully supports this course. Under those conditions you would have good survival-cure odds, so being kind to your liver would be a good idea. What stage were you? Any mets or positive nodes?

minibull
Posts: 53
Joined: Oct 2009

usakat,

To answer your question, I was dx'ed stage 3A with 8" colon removed and 1/10 nodes positive. Would this change the treatment protocol where I wouldn't have a choice?

Laureen

hueybubba's picture
hueybubba
Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2009

I had surgery last November 2008 - anterior resection and as part of the biopsy they found a spec of cancer in of the 19 lymph nodes. In Feb 2009 started chemo and radiaton together. I did 6 sessions (oxaliplatin infusion followed by two weeks of 1800Mg Xeloda (am and pm) with a week off and repeated the cycle ) plus 28 sessions of radiation. 1 hour prior to the infusion I would take one anti-nausea pill and after the infusion (in the evening another anti-nausea and one in the morning) The only side effects were that during the first week after the infusion I was very sensitive to cold and could not hold a can or drink cold drinks since my hands and feet where very sensitive. If the drink was even remotely cold my throat would feel like it was constrained. I have been done with the chemo for about 6 months and have a little numbness in my toes still but hands and cold sensitivity are ok now. Also be aware that the radiation will most likely make you lactose intolerant and now have to figure out the proper combination of lactose free and just the right amount of fiber so that I dont spend all day in the bathroom or not able to go. My scans were clean and now just monitoring. In my case the pills seemed effective but only time will tell. Good luck

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2014 © Cancer Survivors Network