I'm curious how much damage does Chemo actually do to your body? I'm asking because it seems to reason since your body uses the liver and kidney to filter toxins from your body, that after a period of time all the toxin built up in these organs would cause problems. Is there any information about liver and kidney problems after chemo, secondary cancers in these organs from chemo? Also if Chemo throws you body into menopause by damaging the ovaries, would it make sense to have them removed? I'm concerned about cancer devolping in the damaged ovaries. I know Chemo actually saves lives by killing cancer but I'm concerned about the stats of how much secondary cancers are actually caused by Chemo....
Dear pitcrew: While chemotherapy can be associated with certain toxicities, it is not as simple as you may be thinking. Some drugs are cleared through the liver and others through the kidneys, these drugs are metabolized and broken down into different chemicals. Most drugs cause no permanent damage to these organs. There are a couple of specific exceptions and measures are taken during treatment to prevent or minimize any damage. An example of this is Cisplatin (not usually used in breast cancer) which can be toxic to the kidneys. During the infusion, which lasts several hours, liters of fluid are infused simultaneously to dilute the medication as it gets to the kidneys. Very few people suffer any permanent damage. Secondary cancers in these organs is extremely rare and the few cases cannot necessarily be attributed to chemotherapy.
As for chemotherapy and menopause. Menopause may not happen at all. Some women never miss a period. Sometimes menopause is temporary, other times it is permanent. Some drugs are more likely than others to cause menopause. Also, the older the woman, the more likely menopause will be induced. Chemotherapy does to the ovaries what nature will do over time. It does not cause ovarian tissue to be more susceptible to becoming cancer.
Secondary cancers caused by chemotherapy are rare but leukemia is one of the more common ones. Percentages of chemo induced secondary cancers are in the single digits. We are also learning more about other long term side effects of chemotherapy since now, people are living after cancer long enough for us to recognize these issues.
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