How Much Chemo is Given?

The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: December 13, 2011

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Question

How much chemotherapy can a person do. I know sometimes the treatment has to be done more than once. Thank you.

Answer

Susie Lee, CRNP, Nurse Practitioner with Penn Medicine’s Lung Cancer Team, responds:

This depends on the type of chemotherapy being administered. Some chemotherapy agents have a limited dose or number of cycles that can be given safely. There are other agents, such as pemetrexed and avastin, which can be given indefinitely as long as side effects aren't prohibitive. As long as someone is tolerating chemotherapy, it can be continued. Often we use 2,3,4,5 different "lines" or regimens of therapy. This means we start with one medication, use it until the tumor stops responding (or starts to grow), then switch to another type of chemo. We can keep doing this until the patient wishes to stop receiving treatment or the treatments appear to stop working.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Focus on Lung Cancer transcript.


News
Medicare Modernization Act results in higher rate of chemotherapy among lung cancer patients

Jun 18, 2010 - The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, which steeply reduced payment rates for chemotherapy drugs given on an outpatient basis starting in January 2005, has resulted in an increased likelihood that Medicare recipients with lung cancer will receive chemotherapy, according to research published online June 17 in Health Affairs.



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