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How long does chemo stay in your system? How long does chemo stay in your system?

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  #1  
Unread 12-02-2011, 04:06 PM
How long does chemo stay in your system?

Hi all -
I'm on my second cycle of chemo for choriocarcinoma. I was supposed to get the second dose of the cycle this past Monday, but my white blood cell count was too long. Long story short, went back Wed and today...no improvement. I have to go back again on Monday. For whatever reason, my doctor wants to wait and see if my body starts making the cells again instead of giving me a Neupogen (sp?) shot.

I know that chemo attacks your white blood cells, so if mine keep going down, does that mean the chemo is still in my system doing what it is supposed to do? My hair is still falling out, too. I'm scared to death that putting off this dose is allowing the tumors to grow, so if my last dose is still doing its job, that would make me feel a lot better! I understand why they can't give it to me now, but still...it doesn't stop the worrying.

My beta hcg level on Monday was 16.8, which is awesome considering it started at 600,000 when they found the cancer in late October. Even extremely pregnant women don't have beta hcg levels that high! So, 16.8 means the cancer is almost gone, thank God. But I'm so nervous that putting off treatment will allow it to come back.

Anyone else ever had to put off chemo due to too low/too high blood cell counts?
  #2  
Unread 12-02-2011, 07:18 PM
Re: How long does chemo stay in your system?

I just had my first round of chemo on Wednesday. The chemo nurse spent a long time explaining how chemo works and what will happen. He said the chemo is out of my system in 2 days but it continues to impact my body. I'm on a 3 week cycle of carbo and taxol. The white blood cell counts aren't expected to go down until the 2nd week after chemo. They do 3 weeks to give my body a chance to start making white blood cells again.

I know they need to do blood tests before chemo each time to check that white blood cell counts are high enough for another round.

Someone else will probably have a better explanation for you, just going by my interpretation of what I heard.

Do you have the neuropathy (tingling fingers in my case) and funny taste in your mouth? Those just showed up for me today.
  #3  
Unread 12-02-2011, 09:31 PM
Re: How long does chemo stay in your system?

How long the chemo is in your system depends on which one(s) you are on. May I ask which? One or a cocktail?

s,
-Linda
  #4  
Unread 12-03-2011, 04:09 AM
Re: How long does chemo stay in your system?

I didn't have issues with my white blood cell counts until about a week after my final chemo treatment. But I can kind of identify with what's going through your head.

I had about 5 stray hairs on my head that never fell out. Every single other hair on my body did - it was just those few, close together in a little patch above my left temple. Throughout treatment and beyond, I had this nagging fear that those few hairs meant a few cancer cells would also survive.

The doctors and nurses all assured me that it was nothing to worry about - the hairs meant nothing. My tumor marker (CA-125) had gone down throughout treatment and that was the real indicator chemo was working. But I keep remembering those few stubborn little hairs.

Try not to make yourself too crazy. Cancerhead really messes with all of us sometimes. Your beta hcg proves the chemo is doing its job. Take that little factoid and run with it. {{{hugs}}}
  #5  
Unread 12-03-2011, 10:17 AM
Re: How long does chemo stay in your system?

Actually
Chemo likely is not in your system for very long at all.
IT is the effects of it that are there for longer.

The thing about blood cells, is that they each have a lifespan of their own and once killed by chemo, it takes awhile for your bone marrow to start making new cells.
The reason everything with chemo happens on different days, has more to do with those cells in that part of your body, than the actual chemo.
The GI tract cells rapidly turnover and so once killed, the effects are experienced early on, and then it takes the body that many days to "regrow" those cells that are damaged.
It takes White Blood cells awhile.

The neopogen is great, but cannot be given within a certain number of days of chemo because of the risks of the other things it can cause.
  #6  
Unread 12-03-2011, 10:21 AM
Re: How long does chemo stay in your system?

I had to delay my last few chemos because of low blood counts, Fortunately they just delayed them by a couple of days, and then rechecked and I was fine.
As I am sure everyone else is, I had my life planned around when chemo would end and was SURE upset when they delayed it.

Often the next day or so the blood count is fine,
janet
  #7  
Unread 12-04-2011, 03:57 PM
Re: How long does chemo stay in your system?

Thanks, everyone. I definitely have cancerhead...I worry about every little twinge and weirdness. I keep telling myself that the cancer is almost gone. The gyn-onc couldn't even see any tumors in my lungs (the only place they'd spread from my uterus) on the last CT scan I had. I also had problems with blood clots from a PICC line (which is since gone & replaced with a port under my collarbone), so I'm taking blood thinners which are doing weird things & making me worry too.

morningstar - I haven't had those side effects. I did have a loss of appetite & only wanted bland food for a few days after chemo. Also had mouth sores for a while, hair still falling out, and I have low blood pressure for a few days after chemo which makes me light-headed if I stand up for too long. Aren't side effects fun?

Linda - I'm on EMA-CO, which is a cocktail. It's etoposide, methotrexate, and dactinomycin in the first dose of the cycle, then cyclophosphamide and vincristine in the second dose. It's a 2 week cycle (or is supposed to be...).
  #8  
Unread 12-04-2011, 04:29 PM
Re: How long does chemo stay in your system?

That's a tough one, then... just purely from the point of view of how long each component stays in your body, the ones that hang around the longest are methotrexate and vincristine. Vincristine binds to some tissues so that half life can range anywhere up to about 155 hours (more than 6 days) - and that's how long it can take for half of it to exit the body; the rate curve decays so there will be some around in the tissues for quite a long time after that. IV Methotrexate is 50% bound to serum proteins, and is converted in the liver to compounds which can be converted back into methotrexate with the help of hydrolase enzymes; the compounds can be stored in the tissues, so it is possible to have methotrexate hanging around for quite a long time as well. In fact, methotrexate is the one out of those five which has the highest potential for toxicity, and to help reduce that possibility leucovorin is often given, especially in patients with high risk of toxicity (low kidney function). Also, giving them as a 'cocktail' will reduce the rate of clearance of all these meds, so I'd tack on some more time because of that effect.

I'm so sorry you have to be on this nasty cocktail. Of course the overriding consideration is that the result should be worth all the collateral damage you have to put up with to get there. You are a very strong person to deal with this and imho you are entitled to a little "cancer head" for your trouble. I hope your counts are up soon so you can get this over with!

in there

s,
-Linda
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