The first part of my chemotherapy treatments was a double dose of two drugs…..Adriamycin & Cytoxan. I started treatment on May 23rd, the day after my 15th wedding anniversary, and had 4 treatments every other week until July 5th. I had a Neulasta shot after each treatment and my blood was tested on my weeks off to monitor my white blood cell count.
As with most of the things I have been going through during this journey, I have had friends ask me a lot of questions about various things like side effects, my experiences with the drugs, my limitations at certain times of treatment, etc…. I can only speak for the information I have benn given by my oncologist and what I have found online, but those questions and a dear friend, brought me to the idea of writing this blog and sharing as much as I am comfortable with so that I can help friends, family, anyone reading this blog, more informed about breast cancer.
As I stated in a previous blog, I am very lucky as I have had very few side effects while on these drugs. I know that side effects sound scary but just know that every cancer patient is different. Age and overall health can play a big part in how well the drugs are tolerated and it is important to read the instructions your oncologist gives you and to follow them carefully and to speak up if you are having any problems at all…..talk to your doctor, he/she can’t help you if you stay silent.
So with that….here is the information I have on my first two chemotherapy drugs and the shot I was given after each of the first four treatments.
Adriamycin: Adriamycin PFS (doxorubicin hydrochloride) Injection is a cancer (antineoplastic) medication used to treat many types of cancer. The brand name Adriamycin PFS is discontinued in the U.S. Generic forms may be available. Common side effects of Adriamycin PFS (doxorubicin hydrochloride) include:
- nausea and vomiting (may be severe),
- loss of appetite,
- missed menstrual periods,
- darkening of your skin or nails,
- eye redness, or
- puffy eyelids
Adriamycin PFS (doxorubicin hydrochloride) may give a reddish color to urine, tears, and sweat that may last up to several days. This is a normal side effect of Adriamycin PFS (doxorubicin hydrochloride) and should not be mistaken for blood in your urine. Temporary hair loss may occur. Normal hair growth should return after treatment with Adriamycin PFS has ended. Tell your doctor if you have serious side effects of Adriamycin PFS including:
- persistent diarrhea,
- flushing of face,
- eye itching,
- unusual tiredness,
- joint pain,
- pain in the lower back/side/stomach/abdomen,
- painful or difficult urination,
- black/tarry stools,
- bloody mucus or discharge in stools,
- fast or irregular heartbeat,
- shortness of breath,
- swelling of ankles or feet, or
- decreased urination
Doxorubicin is given intravenously under physician supervision. Dose is determined by clinical factors. Tell your doctor if you have had previous treatment with doxorubicin, doxorubicin liposomal, daunorubicin, daunorubicin liposomal, idarubicin, or mitoxantrone. Doxorubicin may interact with paclitaxel, progesterone, verapamil, cyclosporine, cyclophosphamide, phenobarbital, phenytoin, streptozocin, or “live” vaccines. Tell your doctor all medications you use. Doxorubicin is not recommended for use during pregnancy. It may harm a fetus. Men and women should use two forms of birth control (e.g., condoms and birth control pills) while being treated with this medication and for some time afterward. Consult your doctor to discuss birth control. This medication passes into breast milk. Because of the potential risk to the infant, breastfeeding while using this drug is not recommended.
Our Adriamycin PFS (doxorubicin hydrochloride) Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
Cyclophosphamide also works by decreasing your immune system’s response to various diseases. It is used to treat a certain type of kidney disease in children after other treatments have not worked.
How to use Cytoxan Solution, Reconstituted (Recon Soln)
This medication is usually given by injection into a vein by a health care professional. The dosage is based on your medical condition, weight, response to treatment, and other treatments (such as other chemotherapydrugs, radiation) you may be receiving. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
During treatment with this medication, it is important that you take in more fluids than usual and pass urine frequently to help avoid kidney and bladder side effects. Intravenousfluids should be given with this medication. Also, ask your doctor how much fluid you should drink and how often to empty your bladder each day, and follow these instructions carefully.
Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomachache, diarrhea, or darkening of the skin/nails may occur. Nausea and vomiting can be severe. In some cases, drug therapy may be necessary to prevent or relieve nausea and vomiting. Changes in diet such as eating several small meals or limiting activity may help lessen some of these effects. If these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Although these effects are uncommon, immediately report any pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site.
People using this medication may have serious side effects. However, your doctor has prescribed this drug because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Careful monitoring by your doctor may decrease your risk.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: signs of kidneyor bladder problems (such as change in the amount of urine, pink/bloody urine), mouthsores, joint pain, easy bruising/bleeding, stopping of menstrual periods, existing wounds that are slow healing, black/bloody stools, severe stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes or skin, dark urine, mental/mood changes, muscle weakness/spasm.
This medication may rarely cause very serious effects on the heart, especially when used in high doses, or in combination with radiationtreatment or certain other chemotherapydrugs (e.g., doxorubicin). Get medical help right away if you develop: chest pain, jaw/left arm pain, trouble breathing, irregular heartbeat, symptoms of heart failure (such as shortness of breath, swelling ankles/feet, unusual tiredness, unusual/sudden weight gain).
This medication can lower the body’s ability to fight an infection. Notify your doctor promptly if you develop any signs of an infection such as fever, chills or persistent sore throat.
Cyclophosphamide may lessen the chance of having children in both men and women. Sterility is usually temporary with this medication, but can be permanent in some cases. Consult your doctor for more details.
Although cyclophosphamide is used to treat cancer, in some patients it may increase the risk of developing another form of cancer, sometimes months to years after treatment. Consult your doctor for more details. It is important to be closely monitored by your doctor during treatment. You should also see your doctor regularly after treatment is finished. Tell your doctor right away if you develop: unusual growths or lumps, swollen glands, unexplained or sudden weight loss, night sweats, pain in the pelvis, painful or frequent urination.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but get medical help right away if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Neulasta: Neulasta is a biologic response modifier. It is classified as a colony stimulating factor. (For more detail, see “How this drug works” section below).