>>> DR. DAVID S. HANSON: Oftentimes patients under treatment for lung cancer are concerned about the effects their therapy may have on their body and this is entirely appropriate. Patients who receive chemotherapy for lung cancer can expect that there may damage done to other organs. The most common is the blood organ or the bone marrow and that is because the chemotherapy arrest the growth of those cells, which may cause anemia, which is a low grade blood count and can cause weakness and fatigue or low white cell counts, which can predispose a person to infection or low platelet counts, which may predispose to bleeding. For that reason, during the course of treatment, your doctor will be monitoring your blood counts and likely adjusting your chemotherapy should there be major abnormalities that develop. There are other organs that are also at risk for damage during lung cancer treatment.
The most common concern are the nerves. The common chemotherapy that works very well for lung cancer can cause numbness and tingling to come in the hands and feet, that this does not occur for all patients but you and your physician will be monitoring carefully for this and probably make adjustments in your treatment should such damage occur. Many times, if that damage is detected early it can be reversed. There are other organs that are at risk for damage from chemotherapy, which include the liver and the kidneys.
The doctor will obtain blood test generally to determine whether or not these organs are functioning normally and if they are not, make adjustments in your treatment. The important thing to know is that you and your doctor will be working as a team to look at the side effects of your treatment and make plans about modifying your treatment to respect those side effects that develop. Finally, there are times when patients must have radiation treatment as a part of their lung cancer treatment plan and radiation can do damage to the organs at which it is end. For that reason your radiation oncologist will make a very careful treatment plan, talk with you about what tissues might be at risk for damage and list out for you those things that you and he or she can do to manage those side effects.
Commonly, there may be a skin burn that is apparent on the skin and the area that is given radiation. Proper treatment of the skin can control the symptoms from that irritation and make it far less of a difficult thing to manage than if its not attended too properly. .