Topic: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

I have been on Tarceva daily and Gemcitabine weekly for 4 weeks now.  Have the chemo "acne" but no other major side effects, in fact the day after I am usually pumped full of energy from all the decadron, then really tired after that.  The last 2 sessions however have been different.  I feel like crap!  I had my chemo on Monday, this morning at 6 I awoke to severe cramping and diarrhea and spent the day barely able to move.  Everything hurt including my hair.  From what I've read of the two drugs they both can cause you to feel like you have a really bad flu, but I guess this surprised me since I hadn't had any problems until now.  Are the effects cumulative?  why would I feel like this now and not before?

This is yet another one of those nights where I want to have a temper tantrum, THIS JUST SUCKS!!

Re: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

my mom was on Gemcitabine and this drug (we think) affected her kindneys.  about 4 rounds in, she got up one night to go to the bathroom and was so out of breath she had to go into the hospital.  We all are fairly sure it was the Gemcitabine, and her oncologist wanted to start her on Tarveca, but we are all leary because of the terrible affect Gemcitabine had on her- and Gemcitabine was supposed to be the one with less side effects!  her other side effects were tiredness, occasionally had a fever, but i dont know that she ever had diarrhea.  there were many days that she really DID feel like crap though.  i guess everyone is affected by these chemo drugs in a different way. 

and youre right to have a tantrum- this really does TRULY suck.  it sucks for me as a daughter who is watching her mother suffer from this- i cant imagine how much it must suck for the person going through it.

my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Re: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

Husband, Charlie, age 52 dx with cc end of May 07.  Charlie felt much better the first cycle of gemcitabine because he said he was "practically dead" by the time he got on it.  He was in such pain, weight loss, extreme fatigue. But the 2nd cycle was much worse and the oncologists did talk about a cumulative effect.  The chemo did stop growth of the tumors, but towards the end of his cycle, he was getting really messed up with his blood counts, extreme fatigue, etc.  The possibility for surgery has come up for Charlie now, but even if it hadn't we weren't  going to continue with the gemcitabine.  It was wrecking his quality of life.  He wanted to try SIR spheres with Dr. Andrew Kennedy in Cary, NC, but then the surgery came up at UNC so we're progressing toward that right now.  Towards the end of chemo, Charlie was so sore all over and like you said felt like crap 4 out of 7 days at least.  He didn't have cramping or diarrhea.  CANCER SUCKS!!! Whew, got that out of my system.  I pray you get some relief soon.

Love and prayers to you,
Carol

Re: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

I have come to the decision that I no longer want to take Tarceva. I know that the stats show an increase in the length of live, but the numbers are too small for me to make a difference and my quality of life is more important than the length.  I am so tired of feeling like crap.  So, when my prescription ran out my doctor told me to hold off refilling it until after my next scan in a week.  I have been off since Christmas eve and I feel SO much better!  I finally have energy and an appetite and am actually enjoying life instead of laying curled up on the couch half the time. I still need the oxygen as I am still short of breath from the pulmonary emboli, but I will take that over how I had been feeling any day!

Re: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

It sounds like you've made a good decision for you.  That's the best any of us can do.  Laying curled up on the couch is no fun...Charlie has been there too.  I'm so glad you're able to eat and getting some energy.  Please keep us updated on how you're feeling. 

Best wishes to you,
Carol

6 (edited by marions Mon, 31 Dec 2007 11:17:19)

Re: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

Dear Barb,
So glad you are feeling better.
Have you been able to peruse any of JeffG

THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

7 (edited by JeffG Mon, 31 Dec 2007 13:19:45)

Re: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

Hi Barb,    I have made the same decision about Taxotere.  I'll wait until next scans to see if it was doing any good or not.  I know the Oncologist will want to do another round before scans but My daughter made reservations for a week in Hawaii 2nd week of March for our Anniversary. ( A Christmas gift) Who wants to go to Hawaii feeling like crap.  Also if Taxotere is doing any good it will do just as good when I return as far as I'm concerned.  With pulmonary emboli, is that like coughing up a lot of congestion?  I'm asking as I was coughing up flem alot this round of chemo and then one time it looked like a good clump of dark red blood.  Just like a blood clot.  My coughing seem to have gone away since then.  Hey maybe I can swim with the Dolphins as well.  It sounds really exciting.

The Best New Year To You!
Jeff G.

thecdr wrote:

I have come to the decision that I no longer want to take Tarceva. I know that the stats show an increase in the length of live, but the numbers are too small for me to make a difference and my quality of life is more important than the length.  I am so tired of feeling like crap.  So, when my prescription ran out my doctor told me to hold off refilling it until after my next scan in a week.  I have been off since Christmas eve and I feel SO much better!  I finally have energy and an appetite and am actually enjoying life instead of laying curled up on the couch half the time. I still need the oxygen as I am still short of breath from the pulmonary emboli, but I will take that over how I had been feeling any day!

Take it to the Limit,One More Time! (Eagles)

Re: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

Hi Jeff

I agree with you, if we as patients can't take charge of our quality of life then what is the point.  There is this line from Steel Magnolias "I'd rather have six months of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special."  Well, I'd rather have six months of wonderful than 12 months of misery. 

Pulmonary emboli are blood clots in the lungs, the main symptom would be shortness of breath, congestion doesn't usually enter into it, that being said, if you are so short of breath you can't take deep breaths than that could lead to the congestion.  The only real way of telling is with a scan, do your scans include the lungs yet?

If you have the opportunity to swim with dolphins in hawaii, DO IT!  It is so worth the money (it was about $150) and one of the most magical experiences of my life. 
Have a great time in Hawaii, have you ever been? What island(s) are you going to?

Happy New Year!

Barb

JeffG wrote:

Hi Barb,    I have made the same decision about Taxotere.  I'll wait until next scans to see if it was doing any good or not.  I know the Oncologist will want to do another round before scans but My daughter made reservations for a week in Hawaii 2nd week of March for our Anniversary. ( A Christmas gift) Who wants to go to Hawaii feeling like crap.  Also if Taxotere is doing any good it will do just as good when I return as far as I'm concerned.  With pulmonary emboli, is that like coughing up a lot of congestion?  I'm asking as I was coughing up flem alot this round of chemo and then one time it looked like a good clump of dark red blood.  Just like a blood clot.  My coughing seem to have gone away since then.  Hey maybe I can swim with the Dolphins as well.  It sounds really exciting.

The Best New Year To You!
Jeff G.

Re: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

Hi Barb,  Thanks for the infor.  Yes my scans include the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.  My cc returned to my liver after having the left lobe and gallbladder removed.  Then mets to the lungs, then to the ribs, now some soft tissue adjacent the eshoagus and tail bone.  We are going to Waimanlo Beach .   It's almost directly across the Island from Honolulu Airport.  We have a front row cabin right on the beach.  No we never been before so pretty excited.  I've been looking at all there is to do, will never do it all that's for sure.  One thing for sure is taking a ride in the see through submarine.  It says it goes down 100 feet and the view of all species of underwater fish and creatures is great.  Do you recommend any adventures?
Happy New Year Again!
Jeff G.

Take it to the Limit,One More Time! (Eagles)

Re: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

The submarine sounds wonderful!  well, for sure you have to do a Luau, I think Paradise Cove is the most popular, suck up those mai tais baby!  If you get a change, fly over to one of the other islands, molakai is both spectacular and awe inspiring, read up on Father Damian.  And of course, if you can swim with dolphins, healing powers!  I googled swimming with dolphins in hawaii and came up with several sites, I have heard of Dolphin Quest

Re: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

Thanks Barb,  Everything is non - refundable so immuno-suppressed or not I'm a going.  I will read up on Father Damian.
Jeff G.

Take it to the Limit,One More Time! (Eagles)

Re: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

Hey Jeff,
I really hope you enjoy yourself with the family while you are in Hawaii. We were supposed to go to Maui a month after we found out about my dad's diagnosis. Unfortunately, he has not been well enough to go. I would love to hear all about it, you are going to have a wonderful time and you deserve it.

Take care,
Tiff

Re: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

Hello all; I am new to this forum.

I have been taking Tarceva (150 mg/day) for 3 months now. I had acne and a little diarrhea the first 3 weeks, but no side effects since then. The onco doc said that the acne response is actually "good"; his patients who get the acne are the ones who seem to get better results. I have also been infused with gemcitabine 4 times. I have had absolutely no side effects from this medication. As a matter of fact, I eat dinner and play on my computer during my infusion. Maybe I am atypical, but I have had virtually no side effects from my meds since I started them 3 months ago.

I might be different, since I do not have classic cholangiocarcinoma. I have something called mixed hepatocholangiocarcinoma; a hybrid of the two cancers.

I am enjoying this forum and the free flow of information here!

Violarob in Texas

Re: Gemcitabine and Tarceva, side effects?

Hi. my name is Marian. I live in Kuala Lumpur with my husband who was diagnosed with CC in Sept 2005. After various chemo regimes his oncologist gave him Tarceva in the hopes that a targetted oral drug would work better. Within two weeks of taking the drug his facial skin started peeling off. His doctor had to give him facial creams. In addition he had blisters at the edge of his eyes and mouth. The oncologist says his was quite a severe reaction.
    About 6 months later his oncologist tried another oral drug, Sorafenib. This time he developed painful blisters on the soles of his feet within the first week of taking the drug. Again the oncologist says his is a severe reaction compared to other patients who show this reaction only after 3 months of taking this drug.
     All told my husband tolerated the IV administered chemo drugs better than the oral ones.