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Got Cancer? Chemotherapy is toxic- less is more

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No matter what cancer you have, solid tumor, blood cancer, the more chemotherapy you undergo, the greater your risk of adverse events. Common side effects of chemotherapy and radiation run the gamut. From short term side effects such as nausea, hair loss, anemia, etc. to long-term adverse events such as chemotherapy-induced nerve damage, to chemotherapy-induced cognitive dysfunction (chemobrain) to chemotherapy-induced heart damage.

The two studies linked and excerpted below cite the most ironic of all adverse events- the treatment-related secondary cancer. Yes, chemotherapy given to you when your original cancer is diagnosed may result in cancer you get from chemotherapy… given to you to cure your first cancer.

Please don’t expect your oncologist to talk to you about all of the possible side effects that can happen to you from chemotherapy and/or radiation. Oncology generally does a poor job of researching possible side effects, especially the ones that can occur years after your active treatment. Treatment-related secondary cancers occur years, even decades, after active treatment.

If its one thing I’ve learned about oncology, the ends justifies the means. 

The only advice I can give is that your therapy is a “less is more” kind of thing. The more toxicity you undergo the greater your risk of adverse events, especially secondary cancers. I myself, based on all of the chemo I underwent in 1995, run a high and growing risk of a secondary cancer myself. If I figure it correctly, my annual risk of about 25% and growing.

I think I am doing well avoiding a secondary cancer by living an anti-cancer lifestyle. Meaning nutrition, supplementation and a host of anti-cancer lifestyle therapies are holding off any cancer.

Have you been diagnosed with a solid tumor type of cancer or a systemic cancer such as leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma? Scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

Thank you,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

After Chemo, Risk of Tx-Related Blood Cancer Higher Than Thought

“Patients treated with chemotherapy for a solid tumor are at much higher risk than was previously thought of developing a highly lethal blood cancer as a result of that treatment.

A research team from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) says that the relative risk of this late effect — therapy-related myelodysplastic syndrome or acute myeloid leukemia (tMDS/AML) — is exponentially higher than was supposed.

The new findings come from an analysis of longitudinal US cancer registry and treatment data for 700,612 patients who received chemotherapy between 2000 and 2013…

The analysis showed that the relative risk of tMDS/AML was increased from 1.5-fold to more than 10-fold depending on the type of cancer treated and chemotherapy or chemoradiotherapy used.

The risk was observed in 22 of 23 solid cancer types, with the exception of colon cancer.

The relative risks for tMDS/AML were highest (>10) in patients receiving chemotherapy for cancers of the bone, soft tissue, and testes (standardized incidence ratio [SIR], 39.0, 10.4, and 12.3, respectively). These cancers were typically diagnosed in younger patients, the analysis showed.

For patients who received chemotherapy for cancers of the peritoneum, small cell lung, ovary, fallopian tube, and brain or central nervous system, the SIRs were elevated 5- to 9-fold…

“The most important message from this study is that, while advances in cancer treatment approaches have improved the prognosis for many types of cancer, the number of patients at risk of developing rare, therapy-related leukemia after cancer chemotherapy in the modern treatment era has markedly expanded,” Morton said in an NCI statement.

“Assessments of treatment risks and benefits should balance these risks and other adverse effects of chemotherapy against potential gains in survival following treatment for the initial solid cancer,” Morton added…”

Stem Cell Transplant Patients Face Lifelong Cancer Risk

“Even 20 years after receiving a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT), patients have a dramatically increased risk of developing a secondary malignancy compared with the general population, say experts who underline the need for counseling in this vulnerable population.

Transplant patients may experience a number of complications following treatment…

Although the risk decreases over time in the majority of cases, the likelihood that patients will develop a second solid cancer increases continuously throughout the decades following HSCT, with the outcome depending on the type of malignancy, she said…

The data showed that approximately 8% of their patients developed second neoplasms. The cumulative incidence was 7.5% at 15 years and 18% at 20 years…

Problems include neuropsychological effects, such as depression and neurocognitive deficits; pulmonary, cardiovascular, liver, kidney, and bone diseases; endocrine conditions; gonadal dysfunction; and secondary malignancies.

Bug said that malignant complications, which are considered very late events after HSCT, are responsible for 25% of deaths more than 5 years after allogeneic HSCT and 15% of post-autologous HSCT deaths.

She explained that secondary neoplasms fall into four categories:

  • Therapy-related myeloid neoplasms (t-MNs) — neoplasms related to pretransplant chemotherapy and radiotherapy
  • Solid secondary neoplasms — cancers of any site and histology following HSCT
  • Donor-cell leukemia — hematologic neoplasms arising from grafted donor cells
  • Posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder — uncontrolled proliferation of B-cell lymphocytes infected with Epstein-Barr virus


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