Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. It is usually the main treatment for mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma. A commonly used chemo for this type of cancer is the R-CHOP regimen. For my treatment, I have received R-CHOP21 (with the 21 indicating the number of days between each treatment).
The R-CHOP acronym is composed of the following drugs:
Rituximab (Rituxan) is a new type of drug known as a monoclonal antibody, meaning it's 'trained' to do a very specific job within the body. Rituximab's task is to seek out B-cell lymphocytes and kill them. Rituximab has been known to cause a drop in blood pressure, a variety of allergic reactions (rashes, swelling, coughing, wheezing etc), or flu-like symptoms like chills in patients. For this reason, the patient is watched closely while receiving this drug for the first time. Here is a pretty cool video that demonstrates how this drug works Animation for Rituxan
Cyclophosphamide is an alkylating anti-neoplastic agent, which stop cells from being able to grow and divide. Cyclophosphamide makes you prone to infection, cause brusing and bleeding, make you nasueus, irritate the bladder lining and cause hair loss.
Hydoxydaunorubicin (doxorubicin) is an anthracycline antibiotic, which is designed to prevent cancerous DNA and RNA from replicating. It can cause hair loss, mouth sores and heart problems.
Vincristine is a vinca alkaloid which works to inhibit cell division. Vincristine can cause Peripheral Neuropathy, which is numbness and tingling at the extremities (feet and hands).
Prednisolone is a steroid that when used in combination with chemotherapy, may enhance the killing of lymphoma cells, and also help reduce fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite associated with chemotherapy. Prednisolone can increase your appetite. It can also irritate your stomach by thinning the layer of protection in your stomach, making it easier for you to feel like you have indigestion. It can also give you severe mood swings.
Radiotherapy is the use of high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells, while doing as little harm as possible to the healthy cells. After the chemotherapy, radiotherapy is sometimes given to the mediastinal area.
Since the discovery of x-rays over one hundred years ago, radiation has been used more and more in medicine, both to help with diagnosis (by taking pictures with x-rays), and as a treatment (radiotherapy).
I had radiation every day for 4 weeks.