Just got diagnosed With Gastric Cancer!

by Patricia

I was recently (Oct. 23rd) diagnosed with between a stage 2 and 3 gastric cancer in the GI junction. My doctor is treating me with Taxol and Carboplatin, but the side effects are just brutal! Shaking, lots of stomach pain, and extreme fatigue as well as lots of chest pain and shortness of breath.

I just wondered if these drugs are used in combination normally to treat adenocarcinoma of the GI junction. My doctor says the PET SCAN shows no spread to other organs ... no metastases, and he wants to hit it real hard before stomach surgery to make sure it doesn't spread.

Then, they plan to take my whole stomach out! It's only a 4 mm area and its way up high in the stomach and maybe could be treated as an esophageal malignancy he says, so I don't know what he is doing to me, but I'm not sure I'm even going to make it through the treatment phase at all. It has just wiped me out! I already have two blood clots in my left arm (DVTs) and my right leg and ankle are twice the size of the left one from all the swelling. Also I now have a bad bladder infection.

Doctor says he is "hopeful" they can knock this out; get my stomach surgery and then more chemo, but this is just so brutal on me I am wondering if he knows what he is doing ... any feedback on this?

Just Got Diagnosed With Gastric Cancer

Hi Barbara, thanks for getting in touch and sorry you have been having such a terrible time having recently been diagnosed.
Taxol or Paclitaxel is in the same family of drugs as Docetaxol. They are mitotic inhibitors which prevent cell division by stabilizing the microtubules in the tumor cell.

The drug is commonly given in combination therapy and in your case Carboplatin. As you mention, the side effects are brutal and are similar to a lot of other chemotherapy agents. As well as the ones you have already mentioned, other common effects are nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, mucositis (sore, ulcerated mouth), muscle pains, neutropenia and infection in the 2 weeks post treatment plus many more.

They can be used in gastric cancer as well as esophageal and gynecological malignancies such as endometrial (womb) or ovarian tumors. They have also been used in lung tumors.

Normally, they are given intravenously through a Hickman line, long line or cannula in your arm.

The response rates have been shown to be between 23% and 46%.
I hope all goes well with your treatment and the many challenges you have ahead having just been diagnosed with gastric cancer.

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