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Can anyone provide information on side effects of low dose interferon treatments?

Posts: 2
Joined: Dec 2012

My Dad is currently in the 3rd week of his schedule 4 weeks of high dose interferon (treatment is every day, Monday through Friday). When the 4 weeks of high dose interferon treatments are completed he will have daily self-injected low dose interferon injections for about 48 weeks. He is 77 years old and has never been sick a day in his life so he is having a great deal of trouble dealing with the side effects: chills, fatigue, GI issues, lack of appetite, trouble sleeping and weakness. He wants to quit the treatments. Although the melanoma had spread to his lymph nodes (which were removed), his PET scan is clean. I keep trying to encourage him to fight through this since he had a clean PET scan. Can anyonen provide any encouragement that his side effects will lessen once he starts the lose dose interferon treatment? I think the prospect of going through the side effects for possibly a year is becomming too overwhelming for him. Thanks in advance for any information you can provide and Happy Holidays!

Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2013

I was just diagnosed in November and also had my lymph nodes removed with a clean PET scan. I will start treatments next month (Feb). I personally and scared to death to start these treatments! I have been told so many different things as far as side effects go. I too will be doing treatments for a year. I hope your father begins to feel better and I hope you get some replies because I have all the same questions you do!

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2013

I have melanoma and completed the year of Interferon treatments - one month of daily iv's at the beginning and self injections 3x week.  They were brutal, but it was more managable after that first month.  I had pretty much every side effect imaginable.  The worst was probably the exaustion.  I would walk up one flight of stairs and have to rest for 5 minutes.  I had to rely on my family for almost everything and found ways to conserve my energy and only do what I absolutely had to do to maintain a functioning life, but my family and friends were critical.  Learning to be on the receiveing end was difficult but a necessary lesson.  My hair never fell out all at once but 5 months after treatment ended and my hair has never been shorter.  It has been a freeing experience in some ways.  I was told it could be up to 18 months for normal hair growth, but I can tell it is getting better.  My taste has returned (and appetite).  Interferon does often cause depression, and it is a huge side effect.  I ended up using medical marijuana and it helped a lot with many of the side effects, if you are lucky to live in a state where it is legal.   I was lucky to have a very compassionate boss and I took off a lot of time.  Keeping up the same schedule while undergoing Interferon treatments won't happen.  You must prioritize and keep your limited energy for the most important things.  It feels like you will feel like crap forever, but you do come out the other side and have the desire and energy to live life with gusto.  I am now trying to clear out the clutter from my life and do things I feel are important.  Your dad should be close to the end of treatment by now, I wish him the best.

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