Last Modified: February 3, 2005
Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My wife's mother will begin chemotherapy for ovarian cancer this Thursday and is petrified of the side effects. Her oncologist is treating her every week with carboplatin and paclitaxel and has told her this will reduce the expected side effects due to the lower more frequent concentrations. My question is should she expect to experience significant effects despite the smaller dose, will the procedure be painful, and is this regimen any less efficacious?
Stephen C. Rubin, MD, Professor and Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:
The most commonly used chemotherapy treatment for ovarian cancer uses carboplatin and paclitaxel, generally given every three weeks for six to eight treatments. With the appropriate use of medications, most side effects can be substantially reduced or even eliminated. The treatment is not painful. The major side effect that patients will notice is hair loss, which is usually complete. The hair will grow back normally after the conclusion of the chemotherapy.
Side effects may be even less with a lower dose weekly treatment regimen, although there is much less experience with these regimens than with the every three week regimen for ovarian cancer. Thus it is difficult to say how they compare in effectiveness. Your mother-in-law should discuss these issues with her gynecologic oncologist directly.