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Is Chemo Cumulative?


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I think everyone is different, but for my mother, yes, the effects were somewhat cumulative. Meaning, that by the time she finished her sixth round of Cisplatin/Etoposide, she was feeling nausea more acutely, more fatigue and had lost pretty much all her hair.

However, I will say the middle cycles of her chemo weren't that bad, in part because it took the first couple of rounds to figure out how to best manage her symptoms. For instance, she developed mouth sores after her first cycle, but by the third, we had discovered a medicine called Gelclair would heal them almost immediately. She learned what and when to eat on her chemo days to help with the nausea.

I will say that one welcome cumulative effect of the chemo was decreased pain. The more chemo she got, the more her tumors shrunk, and the less pain she experienced. And for her, at least, pain was worse than anything else.

It's almost impossible to predict how any one person will react to a particular chemo. The best advice I can give you is to keep a detailed log of when the side effects appear and how severe they are and work with your doctor and chemo nurse on managing them. For instance, don't be afraid to press for a different nausea drug if the one you're taking isn't working. The folks on this board are invaluable in suggesting medications and other relief methods you can ask your doctor about.

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For my husband he went through 8 rounds and his symptoms were the worst on the last two cycles. The most important thing that we did was to take the medicine whether the symptoms were there or not. As long as he took the compazine (sp?), he was not nausea. If he forgot to take it, it was difficult to get things back under control. During the last two treatments, my whole family had the stomach flu and Mike got it too. That made everything worse. His worse symptoms were the metal taste and diarrhea.



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I have found the chemo is cumulative in that my white blood count does not come back as quickly. My side effects have not been worse. I also take compazine to ensure I do not get nausea. Now taking nuepogen for the white count causes bone ache.

I'm on my 8th cycle.


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For us, the chemo was cumulative in how it affected Keith's bone marrow and blood counts. With later treatments, he didn't bounce back as quickly, and his numbers dipped lower than previously. Also, the exhaustion got worse as treatments progressed. However, the nausea side effects and all other side effects were really only dependant on the particular drug. Keith handled the Cisplatin and CPT-11 for his first 3 rounds back in 2003, but then not the next 3 rounds, but the chemo he had prior than this current one, he had very little side effects. That is after 2 1/2 years of chemo.

So, in short, the chemo is cumulative, but it all depends on the person as to which side effects for each specific drug they react to. And the cumulative side effects do not necessarily mean in the next 3-6 treatments. My husband didn't really start having problems with his blood counts and severe exhaustion until he was well into about 18 months of treatment.

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