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How much is too much?


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I was wondering, how much chemo can a person's body tolerate? Of course I know that everyone is different, I'm speaking in general terms.

Can someone take chemotherapy drugs constantly over a number of years? Or for as long as they continue to hold someone stable?

What about the damage the chemo does to the "healthy" parts of the body?

I've been on some sort of chemotherapy drug for 2 1/2 years now. Taxol, Carboplatin, Taxotere, Clinical trial drug ZD6474, Iressa, Tarceva and currently Alimta.

A few of our members lost their battle because of the treatments, not the cancer. I'm not expecting any definative answers, I'm really just wondering "out loud". I'm planning on telling my doctor on my next visit, Dec. 28th, that I want to take a break from chemo. The last break I had only lasted less than 2 months before progression. If my only option is one of the "older" chemo's that I haven't been on, I'm not sure that I want to suffer that again. I'm still hoping for one of the trials that my doctor talked about, but you never know what the side effects will be with Phase I trials.

Guess I'm just thinking too much tonight. Thanks for listening.


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This is the double-edged sword of modern medical discoveries - they are doing so much better than they anticipated keeping us around, they're not quite prepared to deal with us! :roll:

I've been reading lots of internet articles lately about a growing branch of oncology (especially lung cancer related) that stresses the immediate need to address this very issue - long-tem survival and how to manage it - physically, emotionally, financially, socially.

So we get the enormous benefit of the new research, but are kind of right at forefront of the next steps. Frustrating..and unfair, too.

I know you'll end up with information you need to make the decisions you can feel confident are right for you.

Sending caring thoughts and strength,


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I strongly feel the effects are cumulative. As you can see from my profile, I've had my share over a 2 1/2 year period. I have constant neuropathy in my toes and very very slight in my fingers. I suspect as I take more Platinum based drugs that will get worse. I am much weaker than I was 2 1/2 years ago, I sleep a lot more, about 10 hours a night, but what's the choice...its kept me around much much longer than the original prognosis. What damage has been done to other organs...don't like to ponder that.


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No my Dear, you are not thinking too much tonight. You are pondering the same question that has gone through the minds of many of us. As you know, I too have had a considerable amount of Chemo and have asked myself many times "when is enough enough?" I just started back on Chemo in a clinical trial that I had posted about. It is no fun to have this achy, chilly, pukey and fatigue feeling. I felt great for 7 months without chemo. My 5 month CT showed some small progression and the 7 month CT was stable. I'm thankful that my ONC Doc believes very strongly in giving the body a chance to fight this monster. That is why she waited two months and did another CT. She was going to suggest that we wait another 2-3 months to see what the body would do when this clinical trial became available.

Anyway Terri, I wanted to let you know that you are not alone in your thinking. Our cases have many similiarities, so I can appreciate your feeling. One good thing about being back on Chemo is that you know you will at least feel better when you go off it. It's very tempting to stop it, but there is always the chance that it will work and give you some more quality time.

I've rambled enough so hang tough my dear friend and God Bless.


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Like you I have been on chemo for the last 3 years--Gemzar/Carbopaltin, Taxol (Twice), Iressa, Navelbine and now Tarceva. Even went straight through without taking breaks at times. Took a heart attack last year before one of my treatments. Plus add other health issues that effect my treatments. Did develop some neuropathy in my feet and legs, more annoying then anything. Always tired. Fatigue is slowly getting worse. But I also asked for something for the fatigue and take Concerta which really helps. I believe very strongly from day one and still do to this day I'm going to beat it and I'm not going to stop until I do. As far how long, how much who knows. Everyone is different and it is an individual choice. My doctor has a saying, she has to treat the patient without killing them. I do get my liver etc. checked and so far so good. I also work very closely with my doctor with my treatments, how we go about it and ask for any additional medications if needed to help. For me the means justify the end and it has payed off. Hope this helps.


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