After surgical removal of tumors, many patients with brain tumors would continue to receive chemotherapy to reduce the risk of the tumor coming back. During chemotherapy, many drug reactions would appear, and it is important to know the possible side effects and the methods to relieve them.
1. Chemotherapy extravasation
Many chemotherapy drugs can induce inflammation on subcutaneous tissues. Once chemotherapy drugs infiltrate into the skin, patients can suffer pain and swell in the intravenous site.
Peripherally placed central venous catheters (PICC) help prevent and reduce chemotherapy-induced inflammation of a vein and reduce the pain from repeated venipunctures.
2. Gastrointestinal reactions
Not all chemotherapeutic drugs cause a gastrointestinal reaction, even if the same drug has different gastrointestinal responses in individuals.
The main gastrointestinal reactions include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, oral and gastrointestinal mucositis, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, etc. These symptoms may occur a few hours or days after chemotherapy. Doctors will prescribe some drugs to prevent and control gastrointestinal reactions. When suffering serious responses, patients shall inform the doctor in time.
Patients shall adopt a light, digestible diet during chemotherapy; Change food types and patterns every day; Eat a small amount of meals (6-8 meals a day); Drink enough water, electrolytes, and vitamins; brush teeth and rinse mouth to keep the mouth clean.
Chemotherapy can induce myelosuppression, a condition in which bone marrow activity is decreased, resulting in fewer red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The occurrence, severity, duration, and disappearance of bone marrow suppression is varied based on the types of chemotherapy drugs. For some chemotherapy drugs, the number of white blood cell account decreases to the lowest 1-2 weeks after administration, while for other chemotherapy drugs, it takes about 3-8 weeks.
After discharge from the hospital, patients shall carefully read the instructions for chemotherapy and review the blood tests.
4. Damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys or other organs
Antitumor drugs and their metabolites may cause damage to some important organs. Physicians shall closely monitor and evaluate the function of the organs during the treatment, dynamically adjust the dosage of chemotherapy drugs, and prescribe relieving drugs to reduce the side effects.
5. Peripheral neurotoxicity
Peripheral neurotoxicity is another problem of chemotherapy treatment. The main symptoms of peripheral neurotoxicity include numbness of the extremities, paresthesia, muscle weakness, and hearing loss. There are large differences in individual susceptibility to peripheral neurotoxicity. Patients shall be closely observed during the medication. There are no effective treatments for neurotoxicity, and some patients can recover once the medication is stopped.
6. Skin toxicity
The main symptoms of skin toxicity include hair loss and skin pigmentation. Hair loss is usually reversible, and after stopping the medications for 1-2 months, hair can grow back. Chemotherapy patients should avoid strong UV exposure, scratching the skin, etc.
Allergic reactions during chemotherapy include chest tightness, difficulty breathing, wheezing, rash, angioedema, hypotension, shock, etc. Patient’s performance, pulse, respiration and blood pressure should be closely observed during the treatment.