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About chemotherapy for nasal and sinus cancer

Chemotherapy means treatment using anti cancer or cytotoxic drugs.

Chemoradiation

You may have chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the same time. You may hear this called synchronous therapy or chemoradiation. Your specialist may suggest chemoradiation if you are not fit enough to have surgery or because your cancer has spread to other parts of your body. Or you may have it after surgery, to reduce the risk of cancer coming back. 

Chemoradiation can be quite tough treatment to get through. You will have some tests to make sure you are fit enough for it. If not, you may have radiotherapy alone

Chemotherapy to shrink a large cancer

If your cancer has not spread to other organs, but is too big to operate on, your doctor may suggest chemotherapy before surgery. The aim is to shrink your cancer so that it is possible to remove it. But this is not used commonly.

Chemotherapy to try and control a cancer that has come back

You may have chemotherapy on its own if your cancer is advanced, or has come back after treatment with surgery or radiotherapy. This can help to relieve your symptoms and may slow the growth of your cancer.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating nasal cancer section.

 

 

What chemotherapy is

Chemotherapy means treatment using anti cancer or cytotoxic drugs. These drugs disrupt the growth of cancer cells and destroy them. The drugs circulate in the bloodstream around the body.

 

Chemotherapy and radiation together (chemoradiation)

You may have chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the same time for some types of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers. You may hear this called synchronous therapy or chemoradiation.

Your specialist may suggest chemoradiation if you are not fit enough to have surgery, or because your cancer has spread to other parts of your body. Or you might have it after surgery, to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.

Chemoradiation can be quite tough treatment to get through. You will have some tests to make sure you are fit enough for it. If not, you may still be able to have radiotherapy alone.

There is information about the side effects of chemoradiation in this section.

 

Chemotherapy to shrink a large cancer

If your cancer has not spread to other organs, but is too big to operate on, your doctor may suggest chemotherapy before surgery. But this is not used commonly. Your doctor may call this neo adjuvant chemotherapy. The aim is to shrink your cancer with chemotherapy before your surgery so that it is possible to remove it, or so that you can have a smaller operation. Occasionally you may have this treatment to help preserve nearby organs, such as the eye. This is more likely if you have a rarer tumour, such as a sarcoma. This type of treatment is still being investigated.

 

Chemotherapy to control a cancer that has come back

You may have chemotherapy on its own if your cancer is advanced, or has come back after treatment with surgery or radiotherapy. This can help to relieve your symptoms and may slow the growth of your cancer.

 

Dietary or herbal supplements and chemotherapy

We don't yet know much scientifically about how some nutritional or herbal supplements may interact with chemotherapy. Some could be harmful. It is very important to let your doctors know if you take any supplements. Or if you are prescribed them by alternative or complementary therapy practitioners.

Talk to your specialist about any other tablets or medicines you take while you are having active treatment. There is information about the safety of herbal, vitamin and diet supplements in the complementary therapies section.

Some studies seem to suggest that fish oil preparations may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs. If you are taking or thinking of taking these supplements talk to your doctor to find out whether they could affect your treatment.

 

General information about chemotherapy

For more information about chemotherapy, look at our main chemotherapy section. It explains the treatment in more detail including

If you have any questions about chemotherapy, talk to your chemotherapy nurse or contact our cancer information nurses. They would be happy to help.

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Updated: 24 July 2014