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Many different chemotherapy options are available for brain tumor patients that should be thoroughly discussed with your doctor. The chemotherapy agents may be either in pill or IV form. Chemotherapy in its basic definition attacks quickly dividing cells such as cancer cells. However, it also affects the body’s other quickly dividing cells like the hair, nails, stomach, intestine lining, and blood cells. It’s important to research and completely understand all of the side effects, which can include hair loss, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, night sweating, weakness, and fatigue.

Chemotherapy patients may also need to have their blood counts checked regularly to monitor white and red cells. Medications such as Neupogen and Epogen may be prescribed by your Doctor to lessen the symptoms of fatigue by increasing white and red blood cell counts. Also, chemotherapy patients must have their temperatures monitored and caregivers must be vigilant about preventing infection as chemotherapy can compromise the patients’ immune system.

One of the most difficult aspects of care giving for the chemotherapy patient is making sure your loved one is getting proper nutrition. As the chemotherapy drugs attack all fast growing cells, the patient may develop mouth sores and stomach and intestinal irritation that make eating regularly very difficult. Also, the patient may be very nauseas even at the sight or smell of food. Your doctor may prescribe anti-nausea medications to alleviate these symptoms. One of the best ways to ensure that your loved one is getting the nutrition essential for healing and strength is to juice fruits and vegetables with a juice extractor (but check with your doctor first as some chemotherapy regimens do not allow for raw juice or vegetables), or use a nutritional supplement such as Boost or Ensure, but check with your doctor first.

Below are a few links to give you more information on the various types of Chemotherapy used in the treatment of Brain Tumors.

Brain Tumor Foundation: A discussion of chemotherapy treatment and considerations.

www.bymyside.com: The rigors of chemotherapy are explained by actor Rob Lowe and his dad, who is a 2-time cancer survivor. This informative site is sponsored by producers of Neulasta™ - a white blood cell booster, a drug that helps your body make more white blood cells to protect you against infection. The site contains useful resources, links and "questions to ask."

LifeClinic - a user-friendly directory of medicine side effects and precautions, including chemotherapy drugs

MedlinePlus A guide to more than 9,000 prescription and over-the-counter medications provided by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). Find the common side effects, precautions while using the medicine, and what to know before taking it. Most chemotherapy drugs are listed.

Oncology Tools by the FDA contains a variety of information related to cancer and approved cancer drug therapies.   Includes a List of Approved Oncology Drugs with Approved Indications.  The list may be sorted by the drug's generic name, trade name, or manufacturer. 

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Updated: 29 Sep 2006

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