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6 chemo cycles...standard?

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I've been reading some other lung cancer carepages and found that many people are given 6 cycles of chemo. Just like my mom has had. I posted this week about how she was depressed because they (oncologist & pulmonary) were stopping her chemo, but it looks like this amount of chemo cycles is what many doctors do. Is this how they start the treatment plan?? I know everyone's different, but can anyone relate to this? It would be great to tell my mom that this is a common plan for NSCLC...

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Here's some good info on that subject from Dr. West:

http://onctalk.com/2007/01/17/duration- ... ng-cancer/

After 4 to 6 cycles, a particular chemo combination has about run out of steam (the cancer, if still active, has managed to mutate and survive) while the chemo's side effects continue to accumulate in the body. Your mom's onc wants to give her a chance to recover and gain strength so if and when a second line of treatment becomes necessary, she's better able to handle it.

Short answer: limiting chemo to 6 cycles, sometimes less, rarely more, is very common. By that point the chemo tends to do more harm than good.



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They stopped my Mom's chemo at 4 cycles. Because I read Dr. West's srticle about 4-6 cycles being the optimum length I was ok with that decision. Mom has been off chemo for 6 months and it has been wonderful. Right afterwards I'm not sure she would have been game to do chemo again. But she told me a couple of weeks ago that if becomes necessary she will do it again. The break can be a very good thing--I hope it is for your mom!


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Dad had 6 cycles of his first phase of chemo and we were told the same thing...that is the standard for his combination of meds and his type of cancer (NSCLC). Apparently after that the drugs can't do much and the toxicity builds up your body - they start to do more harm than good (just as Ned pointed out).

After 6 rounds they give your body a rest for a few weeks and scan to evaluate whether you can take a longer break or need to try something else.

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My mom had the full 6 cycles with her first line (carbo/Gamzar) and then the Dr. planned to give her a 3 month break from chemo while evaluating her with CTs and CXRs. Unfortunately, she began having symptoms after only 1 month off, so she began her 2nd line (Taxotere) after the one month break. She has tolerated both lines very well and they plan to give her that same 3 month (or more) break when she completes this line in a couple weeks. So, for my mom, it was 6 cycles of each. Shelley

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The prevailing rule of thumb for most oncologists is a first line of a doublet for 4-6 cycles (now often a triplet). We were very fortunate in many respects and had quite a different type of experience.

Tony was initially on carbo/taxol for 8 cycles (21 days), then had to be taken off of it due to a huge allergic reaction that often happens around that time frame from the carboplatin. His cancer showed remarkable shrinkage during that time and he physically was able to withstand that amount of treatment. Without skipping a beat, he went straight on to second line treatment of another doublet, Gemzar/taxotere for 12 cycles (21 days with an extra gemzar on day 7 of each cycle.) He still was responding to those cycles, but hit another typical snag with heavy fluid retention and pleural effusion from the taxotere.

Twenty cycles of doublets in a row is rather unusual, but we had an oncologist who was willing to think outside of the traditional "box" and Tony was still responding and feeling okay. He had PET/CT scans every three months like clockwork. Without chemo, his cancer spread like wildfire. He also had an unusually heavy tumor burden, but it was confined to both lungs, the mediastinum, and supraclavicular lymph nodes. His only left the chest area for a few bone mets much farther down the line.

Not everyone can or should go to the extremes of chemo that Tony did, but there are those who do benefit from far more aggressive treatment then is usually given. Just some food for thought. It bought him huge amounts of time in the scheme of the world of lung cancer.

Good luck on pursuing aggressive avenues with your Mom.


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