© 2005-2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.
Chemotherapy is delivered as often as once per week for up to four months. The chemotherapy program should include the drug cisplatin (Platinol), plus one other drug. Your doctor can explain to you the names of the drugs and the treatment schedule.
Chemotherapy is given through the veins (intravenously, or IV), typically in your arm. The side effects of chemotherapy may include fatigue, nausea and/or vomiting, appetite loss, and irritation around the vein where the chemotherapy is injected. If you have small veins in your arms, the doctor may recommend that you have a venous access device, also known as a port-a-cath (or port), implanted under your skin that allows the chemotherapy to be given directly into a larger vein in the neck or chest.
Other, less common side effects include anemia (a decrease in the number of red blood cells) fever with a low number of white blood cells, hair loss, constipation, peripheral neuropathy (a numbness, or tingling of the fingertips and/or toes), kidney damage, and hearing loss. Often, these side effects go away after treatment, but damage to the nerves, kidneys, or hearing may be permanent. Because some patients (1%) who develop an infection while their white blood count is low from chemotherapy have died, you and your doctor should take all side effects of chemotherapy very seriously.