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A/C side effect

Posts: 7
Joined: Mar 2001

Hi everyone. Its Ann again.
Met with oncology yesterday, and she recommended 4 treatments of A/C on every 21 days even though all my 8 nodes are negative. I am really scared by all the side effects. I have many question on these. If you had A/C before, when are the days that is most discomfortable ? and how long will that last ? eg, when do you get headache, nasua, fatigue, etc. and for how long ?
The doctor said there is the medicine (start with an E that i can't remember) that can boost the white blood cell count, but that will cause bone ache. I am really scare now. does that happen to you ? Will i feel better for a week before the next treatment ? Haven't schedule the first treatment yet since i need some heart evaluation before the treatment. I also want to get a second opinion.
Please tell me your experience. THANKS.


Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001

Hi Ann,

I never needed any medicine for boosting my White cell count. Once it was too low for the scheduled treatment on the 21st day so I waited a couple of days and it was all right.

I worried most about vomiting and I never felt any nausea for any of the four treatments.I was given 2 Zofran before each treatment and continued with the Zofran for 2 1/2 days after even tho' I felt ok. But if you look at the posts, you will see that the second week after my 4th treatment, I got MANY mouth sores which lasted about eight days. i think they got the upper hand because I was not pro-active using the salt water mouthwash before trouble and maybe for a few days before - because I was feeling good and busy- did not get enough water those days. The weather had turned warm.

I think you will do fine. I'm 63 and not as strong as I used to be, but it was not as bad as I anticipated.

Hope I helped you. Jean

Posts: 165
Joined: Dec 2000

Hi Jean and Ann,
Yeah, the sickness that everyone worries about is easily controled with zofran. Anzemet also works well. my onco gave intravenous anzemet before the A/C and zofram starting at bedtime that day, about when the big does of anzemet would wear off.

I was never sick but I took that stuff faithfully.

About the mouth sores, and the white blood counts, bovine colostrum (over the counter at health food stores) ) helps your counts come back up. don't take day of chemo of for two days after (if you are on zofran it is easy to remember because you take it when you stop the zofran. I took 3 times the recommended dosage for the next 14 days, stopping about 3 days before next chemo. It is made from the first milk of cows after they have their calves (after the calf gets its share) and the immune factors really seem to help keep up your immune system. my counts went down like everyone elses but they never missed being back up in time for the next treatment.

I also had some starts of mouth sores but I sucked on the colostrum losenges (or you can smash a pill or open a capsule) and put the stuff on the sore. it really works.

The only problem might be if you are lactose intolerant, the colostrum would casue problems.

hoe this helps, hugs cher

Posts: 1416
Joined: Mar 2001

Dearest Ann
I don't think that there will be anyone who can say anything that will put your mind at ease. I found it extremely helpful to read about the drugs I was taking none of which I care to remember, cause I don't.
I think you have to remember the percentiles are there to show patients that very few people experience the extreme side affects, you may get a few then again you may be sensitive to one and not others.
I had mastectomy, major lymphnode involvement and was unfortuante to say the least when I hit all the one percent chances even. I am here to say even at its worst A/C is doable. A new word that came about around the time I had treatments. I often wonder if this word is used because of the women younger and younger getting this disease. I had headaches, ill stomach and my stomach couldn't tolerate the antinausea medication so ended up not taking but one drug of three the last couple treatments.
We all face the battle in different ways because it is a individualized disease. All I know is I had to become comfortable with all there was. I am working full time and have been in increasingly better health. Amazing what a year has made to me.
I resigned myself to the fact and put one foot in front of the other. That is all I could do.
Lots of arms around you Ann, we are here.
Your close to our hearts,

Posts: 75
Joined: Apr 2001

hi ann, my name is laverne, I had four treatments of A/C and was nauseated alot. It usually took about two days before I started feeling the effects. The doctor gave me Zofran for the nausea but the thing is you have to take the Zofran before you feel nauseated and I never could catch that before feeling so I just endured the nausea. It lasted about three days not so much actual vomitting but the feeling of needing to vomit. Ginger tea and small bland meals helped me get through it. Hang in there and trust that God will help you make the right decision. I will keep you in my prayers.
P.S. I had four treatments of A/C and four treatments of Taxol(my last taxol treatment was today).

Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001


Just take the Zofran every 8 hours as they tell you the first time even if you feel great. With the next three treatments I found two a day - 12 hours apart worked. I took even though I did not feel the need. As Laverne said: you must take them regularly and not wait to see IF you will need them.

Good Luck, Jean

Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001

Hi Laverne,

So glad for you that your chemo is over. May I ask how many nodes you had that were positive. Also since I have finished the AC and have NOT started the taxol yet, how did you find that? I am afraid of that because iof the 30 % of women who can get neuropathy of hands and feet that never goes away - plus I do not do well with the decadron - flushed, burning face and aches all over for about three days.

Thanks for this info if you have the time to tell me.

Best of luck , Jean

Posts: 26
Joined: Nov 2000


I just finished my four AC on 4/5/01. I have to say it wasn't all that bad for me. At its worst it was like having a mild case of the flu. I would be fine the first couple of days after the treatment, then on days 3 and 4, I was fatigued and had a little bit of nausea which was easily controlled with the meds they gave me. My nurses told me to take the Zofran right along for the first four days whether or not I felt nauseated. Then I also took Compezine the couple of times I did feel queasy. I only got sick to my stomach twice the whole time. The second week, I started to feel better, and by the third week I was pretty perky again. My blood counts went down, but they were never so low I needed anything for them. I did get an infection after the second treatment, but I never felt bad with that -- just spiked a fever and needed antibiotics.

My nodes were negative also, but they recommended chemo because my cancer was very active (Bloom Richardson's score of 9 -- the highest), because my tumor was large (4cm) and because it was ER/PR- (so Tamoxifen wouldn't help me). If you have any of those factors, then AC would probably be wise for you as well. Plus, by doing this, you'll have the reassurance that you did everything you could to beat the cancer.


Posts: 335
Joined: Aug 2000

Hello Ann, It is a frightening experience to be putting drugs into our bodies and not know how we will be effected. Each person may have a different reaction to the chemo drugs, so even after you hear everyone's experience, you still do not know for sure how you will tolerate the chemo. The A/C was given to me every 21 days for 4 cycles ( I think this is the standard treatment)I received an anti-nausea drug called Anzement in the IV before the A/C is given. The Adriamycin is administered as a push. It looks like red kool-aid and is pushed into the vein or port by the nurse thru a needle. The needle is small but the containter is big. They give it to you very slowly and there is no pain or discomfort. The cytoxan is given thru an IV drip and takes about an hour to finish. I was given the anti-nausea drug Ativan to use at home. It also is used for anxiety. I would throw up each morning a very small amount for the first 3/4 days after treatment and the rest of the time I felt a little nausea and I was never hungry. I would start to feel better the week before the next treatment. I lost 20 pounds with the A/C. Start taking the nausea drugs right away and continue to take them as prescribed. One mistake I made was to try to go without them until I felt bad. It was not until my last cycle that I took the Ativan every 4-6 hours and then I felt much better. There are other nausea fighting drugs and you may have to try more than one to find one that works for you. I have never felt much fatigue, but I do not push myself to do anything and I do not work away from home. I never got any headaches. Like you, I had many questions and continued to have questions all through my treatment. I am lucky to have a wonderful and patient Oncologist and he took time to help me understand everything that was happening, even drawing me pictures when needed. Now that I am past treatment, it seems that it went pretty quickly. Good luck with your choices and it is very smart to get that second opinion. Love to you, Nancy

Posts: 4
Joined: May 2001

Hi Ann,
I am on A/C and I have had 2 treatments so far.I had noi nausea with the first one but the second was awful.I had 8 days of nausea and the drugs they gave me did not help.I also had a reaction to one of them and can no loger take it. You are having a cardiac output test to see how well your heart functions. I have a porta cath and that is under my skin. Thsy access this for chemo. I only have 2 more treatments to go then 6 weeks every day of radiation. I had a lumpectomy and my nodes were clear but it was an invasive cancewr and of a high grade, hence the chemo. After this last treatment , the nausea went away and I feel great otherwise.I have mouth problems( sore tongue) and I am now bald.Things don't taste the same and my stomach is sensitive. But this will pass. Good luck to you!! Susan

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