GemAbraxane Side Effects
My oncologist is recommending GemAbraxane for second line treatment for recent recurrence. I am scared of the Abraxane side effects. He said 100% of patients get fatigue, hair loss. and messed up blood counts. I know some of you are having or have had GemAbraxane. I also hear that few people can tolerate the Abraxane and have to drop it and do Gem only after just a few treatments. It would be helpful if you can share your experiences. Thanks, Beth
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My experience suggests that both are nasty drugs. I wish my first oncologist had mentioned what to expect, but she just told me that this was the protocol for treating my "inoperable adenocarcinoma of the pancreas." Period. End of story.
To be fair, she did adjust the timing and dosage when it became clear that my "elderly bone marrow" (age 73 at the time) was not responding as vigorously as a younger person's would.
She gave no warning about the near certainty of developing "Chemo Feet" (not to mention that there are some strategies that can minimize the impact).
My hair did start to fall out, along with clumps of attached scalp, at the 31 day mark after the first dose, as expected. (Again no mention from that oncologist to expect this; it was a nurse phlebotomist who told me). And while this should be a fairly minor complication, I find I am embarrassed to be seen in public looking like Voldemort in the train station at the end of the Harry Potter movies, so I usually wear a head covering.
I have since switched to an oncologist who is more basic research oriented, but also seems more knowledgeable and willing to make adjustments. He explained, for instance, that a consolidation of my right middle lung lobe was most likely an effect of the gemcitabine, and not some new dreadful unforeseen complication.
I guess I'm saying both drugs can have nasty Side Effects, and that you are more fortunate than I was in that your husband's oncologist is letting you know what to expect.
I so appreciate your input. Thank you.
My husband is on his 13th 3 week cycle of gemabraxane.
His side effects have not been awful. He lost his hair for months- and then it grew back ! We thought the cancer must be growing but it’s not. His side effects are managed with a small dose of steroids during infusion, hydration with infusion and a short and long acting anti nausea drug. No chemo feet.
Typical week – chemo day. Very tired after- sleeps through part of it. Tuesday – feels great from steroids. Wednesday- fatigue. Rest of week more energy until it’s Chemo day again.
Started trouble with platelets a couple cycles ago and may have to go to twice a month instead of 3 times or switch to Fulforinox.
My advice is to advocate for steroids and anti nausea Day 1. Not pills for after you already feel sick at home.
We try to get away every off week and just enjoy what we can.
He eats a lot of protein and many smaller snacks a day. Lots of exercise.
We find it manageable.
Best of luck to you.
Thanks for your input. I really appreciate it. A couple of questions. Has he lost weight? Had appetite or taste changes? Any peripheral neuropathy?
My situation has liver intrusion threatening the portal vein and I'm not sure how effective this treatment will be, so I want to seriously consider the costs and benefits to my controlling my disease and the impact to the quality of life before proceeding.
I would appreciate hearing from others, if you out there, about your experience with Gem Abraxane including people for whom it did not work. I am considered stage 4 now and considered terminal but without an expiration date.
When do you move from fight to acceptance?
My husband’s first clue of a problem was sudden weight loss and fatigue. He put his weight back on after a couple cycles of treatment – within 5 pounds of his normal.
Sometimes his mouth is dry or things like bread taste dry. Never any mouth sores but he rinses 3 times a day
with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda with warm water and then after that rinses with Biotene Oral Gentle, then cool water. He loves to eat and it’s a blessing that this works so well.
Before the addition of all the anti nausea meds and steroids he couldn’t keep food down and everything tasted horrible.
A little more sensitive to cold- we live in New England.
We have a very decent quality of life, considering, and I wish you the same.
Thanks so much for your response. Your input is very helpful.
@bethf Where did your cancer originate? Have you been or are you going to a major cancer center? Are you stage 4 because of the portal vein only? Reach out to Mayo Rochester and have them look at your scans – Dr Patrick Starlinger. Double confirm your staging and options.
I'll just offer up experience. I am stage 1, had successful resection then 6 months of Folferinox, but it didn't chase away all the cancer cells. Now on Gem/Abraxine regimen. I have had just two treatments thus far. With pre meds and steroids at treatment the initial side effects seem much milder that Folferinox. I did get slammed last night with flu.like symptoms, fell a little better today. Fatigue and neuropathy left over from Folferinox, and some extra fatigue from Gem also. Best wishes.
Thank you for sharing your story. Acceptance of what is I feel is an important element of daily life for everyone always. I am amazed sometimes at how much I appreciate the little things in life since I have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I have shown a response to treatment but from this support group I have learned how variable the course of treatment is and how critical acceptance of both the good and the bad is for my everyday life. Perhaps palliative care would be helpful in your situation, it focuses on improving quality of life for those in your situation. I know that your situation could easily be mine, sending you prayers for the best quality of life you can have in what remains of your life.
I am completely on the same page with you and I am definitely working on acceptance. I feel I am doing a good job moving in that direction and I'm not sure how much more treatment I am willing to do. Right now I feel 100% and no effects of the cancer and of course no side effects because I'm not doing treatment. I enjoy life every single day and I feel great so I am not sure. I want to mess that up with treatment that has limited ability to work. But I am still considering it. I think acceptance is so very important and I agree with you completely. Thanks for your loving and caring wishes.