Side Effects of Treatment
Below are expected side effects of combined radiation and chemotherapy treatment
- Fatigue is common during and after treatment with radiation and/or chemotherapy. Staying as active as possible: frequent walking (every 20-30 minutes during the day) or riding a stationary bike can help minimize fatigue. If fatigue becomes a problem, talk to your provider for ways to help.
- Decreased Immune Function: Radiation and/or chemotherapy treatment can weaken your immune system in general. In particular, they can decrease a component of your white blood cells, called a CD4 cells. A low CD4 count can lead to a severe type of pneumonia, called Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PJP); also called pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). You will be given a prescription for a prophylatic antibiotic to prevent this infection.
- Decreased Platelet Function: Radiation and/or chemotherapy treatment can also lower your platelet count. A low platelet count can increase your risk for bleeding and bruising. If your count begins to drop too low, your chemotherapy will be stopped. If you experience any bleeding, please notify your provider.
- Constipation commonly occurs with Temodar. Increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables and liquids while taking Temodar usually helps to improve constipation. If not, a stool softener may be used 1-2 times a day for 10 ounces of water to control constipation. If you are still experiencing issues, please notify your provider for further instructions.
- Muscle Weakness is very common for people who are taking steroids. To prevent muscle loss while on steroids, it is important to exercise your muscles frequently, especially those in your legs and hips. Get up and walk every 20-30 minutes during the day to keep muscles active. A small timer in your pocket is a good way to remind yourself it is time to take a walk. Climbing stairs 3-5 times a day also helps. For those who are more active, riding a stationary bike or walking on a treadmill for 20-30 minutes four to six times a week will help.
After Combined Radiation and Temodar Treatment
- You will continue to have blood labs drawn weekly during the 4 week break from treatment. Labs can be drawn at a lab close to your home.
- An MRI will be scheduled about 4 weeks AFTER you have completed combined radiation and chemotherapy treatment. This MRI is done to establish a new baseline for later MRI comparisons. This MRI is NOT to see if the treatment has worked. It will be too soon to see any changes.
- An appointment will be made for you to meet with your provider to discuss the pros/cons of additional Temodar.
- The second part of treatment consists of a higher dosage of Temodar. The Temodar is generally taken for 5 consecutive days per month, for 6 months.
- An MRI will be scheduled after every 2 cycles of Temodar (or every 2 months).