Special Chemo13 years ago
Posted on Oct 31, 2006, 11 a.m.
By Bill Freeman
Cancer patients sometimes stop chemotherapy or never go back for a second round because they can't endure the debilitating side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue. But now there's a new method -- used largely in Europe and now in the United States -- that appears to reduce the side effects of chemo. Diane Klenke cherishes happy days spent with her family because two years ago doctors gave her three months to live. "My husband cried for two days. This was like a death sentence," she says.
Klenke had four tumors -- three in her liver and a huge mass in her pancreas. Today the tumors in her liver are gone, and the one in her pancreas is the size of a kidney bean.
She credits a new method of chemotherapy called chronotherapy.
Unlike traditional chemo that's either given as a large dose in a short time or a continuous dose throughout the day, chronotherapy releases various doses of drugs over a long period, peaking when cancer cells are most active and healthy cells are at rest. As a result, patients say they experience fewer interruptions to their daily lives and fewer side effects.
"That means you can give patients at higher doses and for longer periods, which means you're going to get a better effect at killing the cancer cells," Keith Block, M.D., a cancer specialist at Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care in Evanston, Ill., tells Ivanhoe. In his program, patients not only undergo chronotherapy but also follow diet and exercise programs.
But other researchers say chronotherapy needs further study.
Sharad Ghamande, M.D. a gynecologic oncologist at Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, tells Ivanhoe, "It is very hard for anybody to predict."
Klenke, however, says she has all the proof she needs. "I'm gonna live a long life," she says. "I'm not leaving until I'm at least 107."