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Health Q&A: Studies find obese patients shorted on chemo doses

Sentinel, The (Carlisle, PA)


Sept. 30--With chemotherapy sometimes meaning the difference between survival and death, the American Society of Clinical Oncology is looking to make sure those who are overweight are no longer shorted on chemo doses.

The Associated Press reported previous studies show that as many as 40 percent of obese cancer patients are getting less than 85 percent of the right chemo dose for their size. The society adopted guidelines urging full, weight-based doses for the obese, and the dosing issue would apply to all types of cancer treated with chemotherapy -- breast, colon, lung, ovarian and even blood diseases, the Associated Press said.

Boiling Springs Family Medicine physician Dr. Chad Jumper talked about what the factors are when determining chemotherapy doses and what the side effects are of over-treating and under-treating with chemotherapy.

Q: How does weight factor into deciding chemotherapy dosage?

A: "Height and weight are both factored in when calculating the necessary dose of chemotherapy, with heavier and taller individuals receiving higher doses."

Q: What other factors affect chemotherapy dosage?

A: "Other diseases (especially liver and kidney) as well as age are taken into account when deciding on initial chemotherapy dosing. Once the schedule is started, side effects and the cancer's response can direct dosing and the schedule of medication given."

Q: What side effects can there be with chemotherapy?

A: "Most commonly, patients receiving chemotherapy can suffer nausea, vomiting, fatigue, memory loss, hair loss, low blood counts and pain in the extremities called neuropathy. Effect on the heart, liver and kidneys can also occur."

Q: What are the dangers of over-dosage of chemotherapy?

A: "Over-dosage of chemotherapy can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening effects on the heart, nervous system, red blood cells and the immune system."

Q: What are the dangers of under-treatment?

A: "Under-treatment can allow the cancer to persist as well as lead to medication-resistant and recurrent forms of cancer.

Dr. Chad Jumper is a family practice physician at Boiling Springs Family Medicine and is board certified in family medicine. He attended Penn State and completed his residency at Reading Hospital and Medical Center. He is a member of the American Medical Association and the American Association of Family Practice. Check Boiling Springs Family Medicine on Twitter @DrChadJumper and on Facebook.

This information is intended for educational purposes. Please consult your health care provider for advice about treatments that may affect your individual health.


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