Leiomyosarcoma Treatment – Side Effects
If you are beginning chemotherapy or radiation treatment for leiomyosarcoma, you may be concerned about side effects. You should have a conversation with your doctor about the potential side effects of your precise course of treatment, including any side effects from the chemotherapy drugs that you might be given.
However, we have compiled some information on the most frequent side effects, by treatment type. Consider this not a comprehensive list but rather as a helpful way to begin a conversation with your doctor and treatment team.
Side Effects of Leiomyosarcoma Chemotherapy
It is important for you to know that chemotherapy alone is not an effective means of treating leiomyosarcoma.
Chemotherapy is most often recommended in leiomyosarcoma cases for three reasons:
- Adjuvant chemotherapy is intended to combat cancer cells that might remain in the body after surgery. This could be because the cells were not detected or missed. The goal of adjuvant chemotherapy is to prevent a future recurrence of the cancer.
- Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is similar to adjuvant chemotherapy, but it is performed before This form of chemotherapy is intended to shrink tumors that might otherwise be too large to remove, and to prevent the required surgery from being too invasive.
- Palliative chemotherapy is recommended when surgery is not possible. Its purpose is to stop or slow the growth of cancer, or to relieve symptoms.
The following are some of the chemotherapy drugs used in treating leiomyosarcoma:
- Taxotere (docetaxel)
There are a variety of side effects that could occur as a result of chemotherapy, as well as from specific chemotherapy drugs. A few of them are:
- The most common side effect is fatigue. Chemotherapy patients report feeling tired and lacking energy, more so than one might feel from a normal day.
- Nausea and vomiting can occur, particularly in the days immediately following chemotherapy treatments. Thankfully, there are antimetic and antinausea drugs available to combat these symptoms – so ask your doctor about your options.
- Pain, including mouth sores, headaches, muscle and stomach pain, burning, numbness, tingling and shooting pain.
- Hair loss
- Anemia and blood clotting problems
- Bowel discomfort, including diarrhea and constipation
- Peeling or flaking skin and nails
- Sexual side effects
Because the side effects of chemotherapy are notoriously difficult, you should have a serious discussion with your doctor about the pros and cons of this course of treatment. In some cases, patients forgo chemotherapy to avoid debilitating side effects, even if it means a reduced life expectancy.
Side Effects of Leiomyosarcoma Radiation
Like chemotherapy, radiation attempts to eliminate cancer cells. In the case of radiation, it is by exposing the cells to radioactive materials, either internally or externally. The good news is that many people experience no side effects from radiation treatment.
However, there is a chance you might experience some of the following side effects from radiation:
- Skin problems, such as dryness, itching, blistering and peeling, are fairly common. This typically subsides a few weeks after treatment as ceased.
- Dry mouth, mouth and gum sores and difficulty swallowing
- Soreness and stiffness
- Sexual problems (for men)
Do You Have a Cause for Medical Malpractice Action?
You might have a cause of action against your doctor, or the pharmaceutical company that manufactures your chemotherapy medication if:
- Your doctor ignored signs of leiomyosarcoma, leaving it too late for effective treatment
- Your doctor failed to recommend radiation and/or chemotherapy after surgery when it was needed, or performed your surgery inadequately
- You are suffering from severe, unadvertised side effects or new medical conditions as a result of taking your chemotherapy medication
If you believe any of these situations has occurred, please contact our office for a free consultation.