Your questions on chemotherapy

18 October 2018

As one of the most prominent cancer treatments, with well documented side effects – it’s expected that anyone affected by cancer will have questions on chemotherapy. And on hand to offer expert advice on the subject was our senior Specialist Nurse Advisor Karla...who has firsthand experience of offering expert support to our members while in treatment for cancer.

Here’s what she had to say:

Spandia asked:Hi Karla, would you be able to explain to me how Topetecan works as a 2nd line treatment for extensive SCLC please?

Karla, senior Specialist Nurse Advisor:Hi Spandia, thank you for your question. Topotecan is used as a monotherapy for patients with relapsed SCLC for whom re-treatment with the first-line chemotherapy regimen is not considered appropriate.

Caits asked:Hi Karla - can you please explain why chemotherapy leaves a metallic taste?

Karla, senior Specialist Nurse Advisor:Hi Caits, the metallic taste is caused by the chemotherapy drugs. Your taste gradually goes back to normal when the treatment completes. I have been reliably informed that ginger biscuits work a treat and help to relieve this side effect.

Spandia asked:Are you able to explain how it actually works? What it does ?

Karla, senior Specialist Nurse Advisor:Hi Spandia, Topotecan was originally developed from the wood of a Chinese tree. It is also known by its brand name, Hycamtin. It is a type of chemotherapy drug called a topoisomerase 1 inhibitor. It works by blocking an enzyme called topoisomerase 1. This enzyme helps to separate and repair the DNA in cells when they divide. Cancer cells need to make and repair DNA in order to grow and multiply. Blocking the action of this enzyme damages the DNA and so the cells die.

Spandia asked:Great thank you.... they don't explain these things when you go in !!

Karla, senior Specialist Nurse Advisor:Spandia, there's so much information - it can be difficult to get it all in. Just make sure to ask anything that's niggling in your head!

RachelRice asked:Hi Karla if pancreatic cancer is 4cm and inoperable as it encompasses major blood vessels can chemo shrink it to an operable size?

Karla, senior Specialist Nurse Advisor:
Hi RachelRice, chemotherapy treatment may make surgery possible. This would definitely be a question to ask the person’s specialist.

RachelRice asked:Hi Karla- thank you for this. Are you aware of any trials that work well for this cancer?

Karla, senior Specialist Nurse Advisor:Hi RachelRice, there are a few trials going on in the UK just now but it totally depends on the stage of the disease and condition of the patient. The person’s specialist would be able to discuss these in detail and whether they would be appropriate or of benefit.

959965 asked:How beneficial is it to have Mitomycin given at time of operation for Bladder Cancer?

Karla, senior Specialist Nurse Advisor:Hi 959965, Mitomycin at the time of your operation for bladder cancer is very beneficial. The aim of the treatment is to kill any cancer cells left in the bladder and reduce the risk of further ones growing. Research has shown that if a dose of mitomycin is given after surgery it can decrease the likelihood of the cancer coming back by 40%.

AXA PPP healthcare:Great, if you have some spare time maybe you could tell us about an average day for you and the type of work you do, thanks

Karla, senior Specialist Nurse Advisor:Hi AXA, I work in the Healthcare Solutions Team at AXA and we support members who have been diagnosed with cancer. It is a telephone service and we have nurses in both England and Scotland. Day to day this involves assisting to organise treatment by liaising with specialists/hospitals, explaining/discussing the various treatments/side effects with our members and being there as a listening ear throughout their whole treatment journey. We support each person differently depending on their individual needs. We are also there to support their families and friends.