Oncologist Questions Chemotherapy

I have to undergo chemotherapy for lung cancer. What should I expect?

I have heard horror stories about chemotherapy. What types of side effects should I realistically expect for chemotherapy to treat lung cancer?

4 Answers

The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the recommended regimen. I would suggest three things....
1. Ask your doctor what regimen is being recommended
2. Ask your doctor what he/she expects
3. Consult the NCCN www.nccn.org guidelines. They have a patient guideline available that is an accurate source of information.

Thanks. RM
There are many "acceptable " chemo options when there is reason to be concerned about side effects
The side effects of treatment depend on the specific chemotherapy regimen being prescribed by the oncologist.

Recent advances in lung cancer mean that oncologists will typically run special tests to see if patients should get immunotherapy, new targeted agents, or more traditional "cytotoxic" chemotherapy.

Side effects from these various regimens vary significantly so it is hard to give a simple answer to this question. The severity of side effects also range from mild to occasional severe side effects.

I recommend a personalized discussion with the treating oncologist about the specific regimen being prescribed.
Thank you for your question- I'm a breast cancer surgeon, so lung cancer isn't my specialty. That being said, there have been considerable developments in chemotherapy for all cancer subtypes, and the horror stories of 20 years ago have changed. Chemotherapy is never a fun experience- it generally causes profound fatigue by the end of treatment, gastrointestinal symptoms, and hair loss. The serious infections we used to see with chemotherapy are generally mitigated by a product called neurogenic, which stimulates the grown of your own white blood cells to effectively prevent and combat infection. Please consult a lung cancer specialist or pulmonary oncologist for more specifics, as again, this is not my field, but I tried to give you some generalities about how chemotherapy has changed in recent years. I wish you all of the best for a speedy recovery. Warm regards, Rachel B. Wellner, MD MPH FACS