Chemotherapy is the use of medicines to control the cancer's growth or relieve symptoms. Often the medicines are given through a needle in your vein, and your blood vessels carry the medicines through your body. Sometimes the medicines are available as pills you can swallow. Sometimes they are given as a shot, or injection.
Several medicines are used to treat colorectal cancer. There are also several medicines available for treating side effects.
A combination of drugs often works better than a single drug in treating colorectal cancer. The most commonly used drugs are:
- Reference Fluorouracil (5-FU) combined with Reference leucovorin.
- Reference Oxaliplatin.
- Reference Capecitabine.
- Reference Irinotecan.
Hair loss, a side effect common with some types of chemotherapy, is usually not a side effect of these drugs.
Treating the side effects
Your doctor may prescribe medicines that can help relieve side effects of chemotherapy. These side effects can include mouth sores, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Your doctor may prescribe Reference medicines to control nausea and vomiting. These drugs may include:
- Reference Serotonin antagonists, such as dolasetron (Anzemet), granisetron (Kytril), or ondansetron (Zofran). These drugs more effectively prevent nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy when they are combined with Reference corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone.
- Reference Aprepitant (Emend), which is used in combination with dexamethasone and ondansetron as part of a 3-day program.
- Reference Antiemetics, such as promethazine and prochlorperazine.
- Reference Metoclopramide (Reglan).
There also are things you can do at home to manage side effects. See Reference Home Treatment for more information.
What to think about
Chemotherapy and Reference radiation Opens New Window may be combined to treat some types of colorectal cancer. Radiation or chemotherapy given before or after surgery can destroy microscopic areas of cancer to increase the chances of a cure.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Kenneth Bark, MD - Surgery, Colon and Rectal