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26

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

Peripheral T-cell Lymphoma, Version 1.2016

3

Overview of cancer treatments Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, or “chemo,” includes drugs that

disrupt the life cycle of cancer cells so they can’t

increase in number. Some chemotherapy drugs kill

cancer cells by damaging their DNA or by disrupting

the making of DNA. Other drugs interfere with cell

parts that are needed for making new cells. Thus,

no new cells are made to replace dying cells.

Chemotherapy is often used to treat peripheral T-cell

lymphoma.

Many chemotherapy drugs work when cells are in

an active growth phase. During the active growth

phase, cells grow and divide to form a new cell.

Chemotherapy drugs that disrupt the growth phase

work well for cancer cells that are growing and

dividing quickly. Other chemotherapy drugs work

whether cells are in a growth or resting phase.

Chemotherapy can kill both cancer and normal cells.

Most chemotherapy drugs for peripheral T-cell

lymphoma are liquids that are slowly injected into a

vein. A few are made as pills or can be injected under

the skin. By any method, the drugs travel in your

bloodstream to treat cancer throughout your body.

Doctors use the term “systemic” when talking about a

cancer treatment for the whole body. Chemotherapy

and other drugs used to treat peripheral T-cell

lymphoma are listed in

Chart 3.1

.

Chemotherapy is often given in cycles of treatment

days followed by days of rest. This allows the body to

recover before the next cycle. Cycles vary in length

depending on which drugs are used. Often, one total

cycle is 2 to 4 weeks long.

Chemotherapy may consist of one or more drugs.

When only one drug is used, it is called a single

agent. However, not all drugs work the same way,

so often more than one drug is used. A combination

regimen is the use of two or more chemotherapy

drugs.

Part 4 is a guide that explains who should receive

which treatments. You will learn which regimens

may be part of your treatment. Chemotherapy is

sometimes given in high doses and followed by a

stem cell transplant. Stem cell transplant is described

later in this chapter.

Side effects of chemotherapy

Side effects are unhealthy or unpleasant physical

or emotional responses to treatment. Side effects of

chemotherapy differ between people. Some people

have many side effects. Others have few. Some

side effects can be very serious while others can be

unpleasant but not serious. Most side effects appear

shortly after treatment starts and will stop after

treatment. However, other side effects are long-term

or may appear years later.

Side effects of chemotherapy depend on many

factors. These factors include the drug type, amount

taken, length of treatment, and the person. In general,

most side effects are caused by the death of fast-

growing cells. These cells are found in the blood,

gut, hair follicles, and mouth. Thus, common side

effects of chemotherapy include low blood cell counts,

not feeling hungry, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair

loss, and mouth sores. Long-term side effects of

chemotherapy for peripheral T-cell lymphoma include

increased risk for getting infections.

Not all side effects of chemotherapy are listed here.

Please ask your treatment team for a complete list of

common and rare side effects. If a side effect bothers

you, tell your treatment team. There may be ways to

help you feel better. There are also ways to prevent

some side effects.