FOLFOX Chemotherapy Treatment
FOLFOX chemotherapy is a combined chemotherapy treatment for colon cancer. This treatment involves drugs like Folinic Acid (FOL), Fluorouracil (F) and Oxaliplatin (OX). The Folinic Acid is the vitamin which is taken alongside Fluorouracil and this makes the chemotherapy to work more effectively against the cancer cells. This can in rare cases cause a high temperature but it does not seem to have any other side effect.
FOLFOX chemotherapy usually involves the treatments cycles. There may be up to 12 chemotherapy cycles in the treatment and each would last 2 weeks. The drugs are injected into the blood through intravenous treatments. A very short tube called cannula is put into the vein at the beginning of each treatment. This is a plastic tube that is long and put into the chest or into the arm.
Day 1: On day 1 it is oxaliplatin and folinic acid that is administered through a drip over two hours, both the drips are given at the same time. Then the injection of 5FU is injected through a cannula or central line. Then an infusion of 5FU is given through pump and drip over a stretch of 22 hours.
Day 2: On day 2 it is folinic acid that is administered over two hours through drip. It is then followed by an infusion of 5FU through the cannula.
Day 3: On days 3 -14 there is no treatment. This rest period is provided for the patient to recover from any possible side effects caused during the chemotherapy treatment. Then it is again a restart of the cycle. Although a tough decision, the doctor may suggest to stop the chemotherapy treatment if there is no significant improvement in the patient’s condition.
You can have the infusion of 5FU at your residence if you have the central line. You can have the infusions through a pump. You would have to go back to the hospital on the second day to have the infusion changed. You can have a nurse to give you the treatment.
After the infusion of 5FU for the second time, the drip can be disconnected and the cannula can be taken out.
Side Effects of FOLFOX Chemotherapy Treatment
For these combination chemotherapy drugs, the side effects can be decreased and increased. The severity of the side effects can be changed. The common chemotherapy side effects that can affect a patient after FOLFOX chemotherapy are fatigue, which is the worst side effect for many. This often continues after the treatment is over. This can take six months to recover.
A tingling or numbness can be found in the toes and fingers of almost everyone having oxaliplatin. This starts usually after a few days of commencing the treatment. There is a feeling of being sick in most cases. This is often controlled with the use of anti sickness drugs. This can happen due to temporary drop in the function of bone marrow. There is often a risk of getting infection due to a sudden drop in the count of white blood cells. This means that infections cannot be dealt with well when undergoing chemotherapy and there could be a feeling of cold, cough, pain while passing urine, muscle ache, headaches, sore throat. The doctor should be immediately contacted if there is any fear of infection. Some patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment may also experience a problem of breathlessness. This can happen due to a decrease in the number of red blood cells and can also cause anaemia. Blood transfusion would be needed for treating this anaemia.