Its a chemical therapy and sometimes we use the word chemotherapy to explain it to people who dont understand what we are going through (or we don't want to tell them exactly) but if you ask anyone who has ever done both - they will tell you no it's nothing like real chemo at all.
So don't be scared of it that way.......its no where near the same.
Some people prefer calling it chemotherapy. I prefer calling it antiviral therapy. I've experienced the effects of antiviral therapy myself and taken care of a family member who has undergone chemotherapy and antiviral therapy was a walk in the park compared to what they went through with chemotherapy.
There are several websites that say "yes" Interferon IS a chemotherapy drug. But I think it refers more to the "class" of the drug as it is not at all like traditional chemotherapy for cancer patients. Methotrexate for rheumatoid arthritis is a chemotherapy drug. There are many of them, and while they all have some similar side effects, some are not as harsh and everyone reacts differently to different drugs.
I wouldn't call interferon and riba chemo therapy. interferon boosts your immune system and chemo destroys tumors and cells along with a lot of healthy cells in a person's body. From the people I have known who experienced chemo for cancer it is much more devastating to one's body.
I suppose if you use the term chemo interchangeably with chemical therapy you could say any medication is chemo.
interferon boosts your immune system and chemo destroys tumors and cells along with a lot of healthy cells in a person's body
Something is attacking my RBCs, WBCs and platelets... they used to be healthy cells. Actually, since they are all made in the bone marrow, maybe it is the bone marrow thatt is being attacked. Plus... my hair roots are being attacked because my hair is falling out.
I call it a mild form of chemo therapy. Like Nygirl says, it does make it a lot easier to explain to people who have no idea what we are talking about.
The definition of chemotherapy is using drugs to treat a disease. So technically HCV treatment is chemotherapy. However, most people use the term of chemotherapy to mean treating cancer with drugs. The connotation it brings to mind is one of of harsh drugs causing severe nausea and baldness. Like nygirl, I prefer calling it anti-viral therapy as it doesn't scare new patients away. And it is not as harsh as drug tereatment for cancer.
The point of chemotherapy is too destroy cancer cells but the medication can not distinguish between healthy and cancer cells. Although interferon and riba have adverse cell destroying side effects they are not designed with the purpose of destroying cells.
I think the real question is if they compare in what they do to the body and how debilitating they are. My experience has been that tx really $ucks, but is not nearly as devastating as cancer chemo.
I was wondering about the side effects of chemotherapy on cancer patients, and do they suffer the same side effects as the 'mental & physical' side effects as we all experience during HCV treatment.?
Or do cancer patients just have the nausea/weightloss/hairloss physical side effects.?
Do they go through the interferon fogged out depression/soul destroying/soul searching exeriences that we go through?
How long is cancer treatment?
Im on treatment just now, 2nd round, questioning everything.........lol
What I have observed in my internet investigations confirms what ya'll have said for HCV combination therapy which consists of interferon and antivirals; however I did note that therapy with interferon (regardless of the purpose - cancer or hep c) is specifically referred to as immunotherapy.
I, too have been confused about how a drug (interferon) that is supposed to boost my immune system results in a reduction of WBCs - especially neutriphils we need to fight infection??!?
I received this email from a friend of mine who is not a member but occasionally takes a peak at the forum. He has done both and this was what I was asked to post:
Please post this note from a "friend"
I've done cancer chemo and I have also done 48 weeks of SOC for HCV. I would call it "chemo" in awkward situations where I did not want to be closely questioned about my illness, however to me it is a whole different experience and not in the same class with cancer treatment. Also, many people undergoing chemo for cancer (myself included) also are taking radiation treatments at the same time. There is no comparison between SOC for HCV and the torture that is chemo plus radiation.
Or do cancer patients just have the nausea/weightloss/hairloss physical side effects.?
Do they go through the interferon fogged out depression/soul destroying/soul searching exeriences that we go through? "
Have you ever SEEN someone going through real chemo? It seems 100x worse to me than anything we go through - 100x.
We are quite lucky in that way even though hepc treatment *****.
The varied uses of interferon make its 'classification' open to interpretation, especially because it is sometimes used in certain cancer treatments. Because the term "chemo" over the years has become synonymous with 'cancer treatment,' many people don't feel it's appropriate to call hcv treatment chemotherapy, even though as pointed out above the technical definition could encompass it to be considered as such.
On flip side, there is currently quite a bit of research exploring the possible anti-cancer properties of both interferon and ribavirin. There is some recent evidence that both may have anti-cancer potential in addition to anti-viral properties -- oncologists and tumor specialists are exploring those possibilities and investigating interferon more recently as a possible anti-cancer agent. And though for most people, hcv tx is not considered chemo, for my husband, it IS chemo, from both a technical and interpretive standpoint. Because he is fighting liver cancer as well as hcv, for him, treatment is as much about keeping hcv away as it is about keeping hcc at bay. He has not had any radiation therapy, but he has undergone a session of chemo-embolization for his hcc, and I can certainly attest that it is no picnic -- but hcv treatment isn't a walk in the park either. If I had to compare the two from his experience, no doubt standard "chemo" is a much more intense and debilitating experience (in terms of both the treatment itself and the side effects) and the discomfort much more severe, but it lasts for a much shorter duration. (I would say hcv treatment is like Chinese water torture, but chemo treatment is like electric shock torture.)
I think it's important to note that independently, both hcv therapy and cancer therapy affect treated individuals very differently from case to case -- we've seen people breeze through inf/riba treatment, and then some who are completely debilitated by it. Similarly for cancer therapy: there are those who tolerate chemo and radiation with moderate side effects, and who cannot tolerate it at all. We can all certainly agree that inf/riba is anti-viral as well as immuno-therapy, but my thinking is the jury is still out on whether or not it's appropriate to call it chemotherapy.
I have had typical chemotherapy for endometrial cancer AND I've gone through 2 rounds of Interferon/ribaviran. I lost my hair in BOTH ~ almost every bit of ot it and I have VERY thick hair. After the first Chemotherapy for cancer my hair regrew softer but just as thick. The first round of Interferon/riba it came back curlier. The 2nd round of Interferon/riba they lowered the dosage so it only thinned but came back fine.
I ASK my Hepatologist and he said Interferon is a form of chemotherapy and used to treat several types of cancers. Most people handle the treatment well, but there are those, and I was one, who had horrible side effects such as, medication induced depression, medication induced anorexia (I lost almost 50 lbs), drops in White Blood Cells requiring medical intervention (I was hospitalized 2 times due to this), I developed Sjogren's, Raynaud's, RA (auto immune disorders), neuropathy, lasting chemo fog (I've been off treatment 3 years and still have some minor problems).
Do not think Hepatitis Treatment is 'small time', it's not, it is the only treatment available NOW and does have a history of success, especially with some genotypes.
Do not JUDGE the disease or it's treatment by things you've heard or read as everyone case is so specific and individual ~ there is much misinformation out there about both.
Treatment and early is THE BEST for most people, in my opinion, but know going in that it may not be best for YOU.
SUPPORT RESEARCH INTO OTHER TREATMENTS THAT DO NOT INCLUDE INTERFERON.
Ribavirin + Interferon may not be, in most people's minds, chemotherapy, but the side effects, to an outside observer, may appear similar. I was on this regimen for 6 months during which time I felt very nauseous, had little appetite, had a very itchy rash over about 50% of my body and had my weight drop from about 175 down to 135. I always dreaded the weekly subcutaneous injections but, on an intellectual level, I knew that they were the right thing to do.
I had similar experience 12 years ago. As I understood it, the interferon lowered the ability of my red blood cells to replicate, while the rib. attacked the hep c cells. My doc. explained it was lowered just above the point that it would kill me.
I am still negative(thanks to God) but have had chronic fatigue, IBS, hypothyroidism (extremely high levels now) RA for awhile, fibromyalgia throughout. I had no choice to treat or not because mine was advanced, after 30 years they said, but my quality of life has never been the same. I feel instinctively that my immune system was damaged and I need some kind of blood transfer,
Not to be a downer, everyone is different,. I am grateful to be alive.
my hubby just got results of 4wk and viral load is zero.Just want to say that yes the treatment is harsh for all concerned but the news was a tremendous boost and we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. So good luck to everybody this site is brill fantastic long distance support
Hello, I started Hep C treatment 5 weeks ago. I have lost some hair no big deal. The worst part is the up and downs, mostly down. You feel sick all the time, can't eat, went from 132 pounds to 124 in 4 weeks, vomit often. Had blood transfusion because of extremely low red blood cell count, little or no appetitie, feel like dying but not depressed. If someone could put me to sleep I would welcome it. I am weak and confused a lot...I look around at other people/children and they have it a whole lot worse so that thought keeps me going. People should have their Doctors do a full stds pannel espcially for hep c and if diagnosed get treatment right away. The virus at that point is going after your liver.
I'm not an expert but I relive you are very mistaken.
Our member SFHector who is on the transplant list, has battled liver cancer and they did not use interferon tx to rid him of his tumor.
He will gladly tell you that interferon treatment is not chemo, having done both.
however, Interferon is and was used to treat cancers such as lymphoma, melanoma, kidney cancer, leukemia, etc,
I think is called sometimes "biological therapy" because interferon is a natural part of the body's immune system.Of course, there is nothing natural or human about the interferon we are doing, is just a mix of chemicals plus interferon coming out of the E Coli bacteria so it is not a cytotoxic chemo drugs but still a chemical drug
I'm glad it came up, though a little from the past...I was wondering the same thing myself lately and glad to see it entered the recent threads again...there are always new people wondering the same questions other people have already had answered.
i tell people that I am in "treatment". I never use the word "chemo". i let them come to whatever conclusion they want to. they then ask where it is and i point to my right side.....if that works for anyone, I would gladly license the use of the word "treatment"; for a nominal fee of course.
Many of the long timer's and experienced people know this info already, but here is some "easy" to understand technical explanation for the newbies...like myself. And I am certain there is more and other info aside from this. Quoting...
"Interferon therapy is used (in combination with chemotherapy and radiation) as a treatment for many cancers. This treatment is most effective for treating hematological malignancy; leukemia and lymphomas including hairy cell leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia, nodular lymphoma, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
Patients with recurrent melanomas receive recombinant IFN-α2b. Type I IFNs have a therapeutic potential for the treatment of a wide variety of leukemias and solid tumors due to their antiproliferative and apoptotic effects, their anti-angiogenic effects and their ability to modulate an immune response specifically activating dendritic cells, cytolytic T cells and NK cells. Research in this area is receiving intensive investigation." End quote.
(In China, in recent years they have used interferon's to treat recurrent liver cancer in primary liver cancer with some success in preventing recurrence.)
Quote..."In January 2001, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of PEGylated interferon-alpha in the USA; in this formulation, polyethylene glycol is added to make the interferon last longer in the body. Initially used for production of PEGylated interferon-alpha-2b (Pegintron), approval for PEGylated interferon-alpha-2a (Pegasys) followed in October 2002. These PEGylated drugs are injected once weekly, rather than administering three times per week, as is necessary for conventional interferon-alpha. When used with the antiviral drug ribavirin, PEGylated interferon is effective in treatment of hepatitis C; at least 75% people with hepatitis C genotypes 2 or 3 benefit from interferon treatment, although this is effective in less than 50% of people infected with genotype 1 (the more common form of hepatitis C virus in both the U.S. and Western Europe). Recently, 2 new Protease Inhibitors have been approved which improves the outcomes for Genotype 1 hepatitis C - boceprevir and telaprevir. These drugs are used in addition to PEG-IFN / Ribavirin." End quote
I liked this explanation as it was something a new person like myself, could understand reasonably well.
Anybody can find most anything on the net. Please include links when you post, thanks.
Honestly, I don't think dragging up information from 2001 does much more than confuse people.
When I was first diagnosed in late 2005, seeing information about the old three times weekly injections of interferon, didn't help me at all.
Now, when most genotype 1 people are treating with triple tx, this old stuff becomes even more needless.
And~lol, within hopefully a short time, the new all oral meds will make this discussion entirely moot.
Hope so, but aside from some of the "old" info included in the post, I understand there is newer info, (I acknowledged that in my post), I found that the explanation of how interferon is used and in what types of situations was helpful. I believe the original question was about whether interferon is chemotherapy...I found it helpful to find a discussion on what interferon is and how it is used. The info is not dragged up from 2001...it is a discussion of the series of events and prior treatments and recent approvals that led up to the latest therapies, including triple therapy with the latest protease drugs. The oral meds you speak of, without interferon, are not on the market yet, date to be announced, so at this moment for a person considering treatment now, the triple therapy, with interferon, are the only options, as outlined in my post above.
And my point was not to discuss treatment options, but to add to the thread about what interferon is and how it is used in cancer treatment in certain situations, including liver cancers and tumors, alongside what other medications...I found it helpful...sorry you did not.
It is just this simple:
All I know in the following -,however my wife had cancer and I have e had Hep C for 30 years and gone through five Interferon treatments .
1- Chemotherapy is the use of medication (chemicals) to treat disease, only through ignorance one believes it only applies to cancer
3-No one and I mean no one, can say how someone else feels after treatment of chemo for cancer or Hep-C.
4. I knew a school teacher who had breast cancer , after removal of one breast , she was released, and after healing from surgery and began chemo and radiation , she did not miss one day of teaching her class, yes that is correct , chemo and radiation, and did not miss a day teaching other than when she was having treatment. So suck it up folks- and do not compare nor judge.
5. I have known of and read of some taking interferon /Rib for Hep C , and kill themselves and sometimes others, and or had to be taken of due to it (interferon ) almost killing them.
So, all said, no one can truly speak for another until they go through it themselves- for medicine if far from being an exact science,. However, we( humanity) has come a long way in treating cancer and virus , but have only began to scratch the surface if that, so do not judge others , mine your own BS and inform yourself or continue to walk blindly through life . I am that, I am, and who told you - ;you were naked- it is what it is.
Thought I once did , but now I realize - I and no one truly, DOES NOT KNOW
My understanding is that Interferon is more commonly referred to as biotherapy, but that is also a term for immunotherapy, which is also a term for chemotherapy.
I tell people I'm on experimental chemo treatment for a virus attacking my liver. Sounds exotic and is true. Wouldn't you agree that Incivek is experimental? That's why it won't be used ever again now the new meds are out, unless it is sent to India, Middle East etc.
As for discussions about the difference between SX of cancer treatments and HCV treatments, I had a mane of hair, and now nearly nothing. My friend is on radical chemo and radiotherapy for a rare cancer, and she's lost not a hair on her head.
We both have brain fog, lost up to 40lbs, bowel and stomach disorders, low platelets, (me also low hgb), and other similar SX.
It's not a competition.
I agree with some others here that in the broader context, in the older context "chemo" was just therapy which involved chemicals; drugs.
The more recent context is that Chemotherapy is Cancer treatment, but I see no reason is should be used exclusively for cancer.
As mentioned interferon is used in some cancer treatments, and given the duration, the side effects on some people, I see no reason that it cannot be used on either. If one uses some sense of how severe one type of treatment is...... the answer is that I know some people who have had severe or mild experiences with Chemo for cancer...... and I have also known people who had similar.....some severe, some mild with SOC.
Some people like the term "immunotherapy", as though it were some sleek, effective, modern form of HCV treatment.
I view it more as a marketing term; we are going to "rev up" your immune system to defeat the virus.
In actuality....... in many people the amount of viral response is paltry compared to the new modern antivirals, and while the immune system does get revved up to some extent...... in many people it attacks the host body, attacking joints, organs, and in many cases..... lowering the bodies abilities to fight infection (lower RBC or particularly lower WBC)
In that sense...... the term "Immuno-therapy" seems a little ironic.
Interferon is Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is the medical term for Hepatitis C treatment. If a doctor were to right you a treatment note... it could say you are having chemotherapy while in fact your being treated for Hepatitis C.
You can look on "chemocare.com". Interferon is a chemotherapy drug and listed on "chemocare.com" in the drop down menu under drugs.
I'm half way through a second combined treatment of Hep C; in 2006 I did 48 weeks of Peginterferon + Ribavirin; now I'm doing the 48 week triple treatment (started with Boceprevir on the 5 week of Peginterferon + Ribavirin). Next week I'll complete half treatment.
My experience with Peginterferon has always been terrible: I give myself the injection on Mondays midday (at the same time I take 1000mg Paracetamol). Three to four hours later the side effects kick in: drowsiness, temperature (38,5 c.), nausea; some weeks are worse than others. I usually spend the rest of Monday in bed, sleeping, practically only waking up to eat something and take the pills; some weeks I eventually spend Tuesday in bed, quite knocked out (such was yesterday). Today (Wednesday) I'm feeling a bit better though everything is very tiring to do.
So my weekly routine with the treatment leaves me really with only 4 days feeling reasonably fit to work.
At week 23 of treatment my hair has become thinner and my red blood cells have started to drop (10,9), so the doctor has reduced the Ribavirin from 800mg to 600mg.
My viral count, initially 7 million something, dropped by the 4th week to 243 and by the 12th week become "negative". The doctors tell me that I'm clinically reacting very well.
The first month of treatment was quite difficult: I ended up three times at the hospital emergency with strong vomiting and rejecting so many pills daily (Ribavirin (2+2), Boceprevir (4+4+4)). Eventually I managed to adapt the meals (smaller quantities more frequently) to the frequency of the pills, and now I'm managing to deal better with the nausea. I have actually put on 3 kilos since the beginning of the treatment and now I'm weighing 53kg (my normal weight for many years was 52kg).
Most people take the injections on Friday and go through the worse part of the side effects during the week end; I have some work on the the week ends so I opted for taking the injection on Monday.
I wouldn't be able to work full time during the treatment and therefore the financial aspect of surviving the treatment has also made me consider giving up; it has been with the help and the support of family (to whom I'm very thankful) that I've managed to take it through.
Back in 2006 when I did the first treatment it was much different though I'm feel the the added Boceprevir has worsened the side effects.
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