VAD Chemotherapy Regimen for Multiple Myeloma Information for Patients

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1 VAD Chemotherapy Regimen for Multiple Myeloma Information for Patients The Regimen contains: V = vincristine (Oncovin ) A = Adriamycin (doxorubicin) D = Decadron (dexamethasone) How Is This Regimen Given? VAD is given every 4 weeks until you have achieved a maximum benefit, or for 4 cycles if you are going on to hematopoietic stem cell (bone marrow) transplant. Adriamycin and vincristine are started on the same day. They are given into a vein (intravenously) by an infusion pump that slowly administers the chemotherapy over 4 days. The chemotherapy pump will be programmed and the infusion started at the Cancer Center. A visiting nurse will be arranged to monitor your infusion at home. Adriamycin and vincristine are given at the beginning of each cycle through a catheter placed in your arm or chest wall. Your doctor will discuss which type of catheter you will have placed. Decadron is a medication taken daily by mouth. Decadron is taken in 3 pulses during a chemotherapy cycle. You will take Decadron for four consecutive days, and then you will have 4 days with no Decadron. This is repeated three times during the cycle. (4 days of taking Decadron, followed by 4 days without Decadron ). To prevent indigestion, Decadron should be taken with food. Your first chemotherapy infusion typically involves more time for teaching, preparation and learning to manage the pump infusion. Plan to

2 spend most of the day here for your first treatment. You should arrange to have a driver take you home after each treatment. Infusion Related Reactions Vincristine can cause irritation or pain along the vein where they are infused, rarely, tissue damage may occur. Tell the infusion nurse if you feel any pain or burning during the infusion. Adriamycin is a red liquid and may change the color of your urine to a red, orange or pink color for approximately 1-2 days after the last dose of Adriamycin. Side Effects (Report these side effects to your physician if they occur): This information is selective and does not cover all possible side effects. Heartburn or acid reflux is a side effect of VAD chemotherapy, particularly Decadron. To avoid indigestion, take your Decadron with food. Your doctor may encourage you to take a medication such as Pepcid, Prilosec, or Nexium to help prevent or treat heartburn. Discuss any symptoms with your doctor before taking these medications. A temporary decrease in blood cell counts (white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets) may occur 7 to 10 days after treatment with CVP. Your blood counts will be monitored during your therapy, usually on the 10 th to 14 th day after treatment, and then again just prior to each treatment. Chemotherapy may be delayed during the regimen to allow blood counts to return to more normal levels. White blood cells are the cells most affected during VAD treatment, putting you at risk for getting an infection. In addition, you are at risk of infection because of your multiple myeloma, and because the Decadron suppresses 2

3 your immune system. It is very important for you to call the clinic or hematology doctor on call if you develop a fever of F or greater, cough, chills, burning on urination or mouth sores. Your physician may prescribe antibiotics to take during chemotherapy to help prevent infections. Please use good judgment to try to avoid infection such as: o Avoid physical contact with people who have a contagious infection such as the flu or a cold; avoid public crowds since you don t know if they are sick. o Practice good personal hygiene, especially frequent hand washing which is the most important way to prevent infections. Do not share drinking glasses or eating utensils. o Check your temperature daily after VAD treatment. Notify your physician if your temperature is >100.5 F (between 100 and 101). Mouth sores may occur with VAD but they are not common. If they appear it is often between the 7th and 14th day after treatment. The sores can develop on the tongue, gums or in the throat. Discuss the use of salt & soda mouth rinses with your doctor. These are described in the Chemotherapy Patient Handbook and are made by combining ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of warm water. Use this solution to rinse your mouth then spit the solution out, four times daily. 3

4 Nerve Irritation Vincristine may cause numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. If this occurs, tell your doctor. Nausea and vomiting may be experienced with VAD. It can begin shortly after chemotherapy is given, but is usually very mild. The duration varies from person to person. You will be given medications to minimize or prevent this side effect. Notify your doctor if this continues after taking the medications given to you, or if you are unable to keep down fluids. Constipation is common during VAD treatment, particularly because of the vincristine. Constipation is defined as having no bowel movement for more than 24 hours, or hard, straining bowel movements. It can be caused by many factors such as anti-nausea and pain medications, dehydration and some chemotherapies, such as vincristine. Preventing constipation is important. Routine use of a mild laxative (such as senna; Senokot ) and a stool softener (docusate; Colace ) is recommended for prevention. Drinking plenty of fluids and increasing the amount of fiber in your diet can also help prevent constipation. If you experience constipation, call the doctor. Hair loss (alopecia) will occur with Adriamycin. Temporary and total loss of body hair usually occurs two to three weeks after treatment begins. Loss of hair on the head usually occurs first, followed by loss of body hair (including eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic hair) slowly throughout the course of chemotherapy. After treatment with Adriamycin has ended, hair growth should return, however hair color and texture may change. If you plan to purchase a wig, ask your nurse for a prescription. Wigs are often covered on 4

5 health insurance policies. Additional information about hair loss, wigs and other head coverings can be found at the Patient Education Resource Center on Level B1 of the Cancer Center. Insomnia or difficulty sleeping. This can be caused by Decadron. To reduce this side effect, take your Decadron early in the morning (with breakfast). Steroid Side Effects: Potential side effects of the steroid Decadron can include: trouble sleeping, increased appetite, fluid retention and swelling, indigestion, restlessness, nervousness, headache, blurred vision, muscle cramps and weakness, increased blood sugar level, bone pain, and high blood pressure. Call the clinic if you develop any of these symptoms. LATE SIDE EFFECTS: Fertility / Menopause: The VAD regimen may interfere with the normal menstrual cycle (period) in women and may stop sperm production in men. For some women, menstrual periods may become irregular, stop completely or in some cases, women may experience menopause. This may impact your ability to have children and may cause sterility. Discuss fertility options with your doctor before beginning treatment. Do not assume that you cannot get pregnant or cause a pregnancy; always use a contraceptive method throughout chemotherapy treatment. Heart damage can be a concern with Adriamycin but typically at higher doses than given with VAD for Multiple Myeloma. If you develop shortness of breath with exertion or while sleeping at night, or leg or foot swelling, please notify your doctor. 5

6 MORE INFORMATION: This document contains condensed information only. For individual drug sheets, or more comprehensive information, visit the Patient Education Resource Center on level B1 of the Cancer Center or (select drug information ). This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician The Regents of the University of Michigan Document # 0267 / Revised Oct 06 6

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