Streptozocin is a chemotherapy drug used to treat pancreatic cancer and some neuroendocrine tumors. It can be given alongside other chemotherapy medications.
HOW IS STREPTOZOCIN ADMINISTERED?
Streptozocin is given in the chemotherapy day unit or during a hospital stay. A chemotherapy nurse will give it to you.
Before the day of treatment, a nurse will take a blood sample from you to see if you are fit for chemotherapy.
You will also be able to see a doctor or nurse before having chemotherapy. They will ask you how you have been feeling. If the results of your blood test are good on the day of your treatment, the pharmacist will prepare your chemotherapy. Your nurse will give you medication for nausea and, sometimes, steroids administered intravenously. Chemotherapy drugs may be given in the following ways:
- Through a thin tube (line) inserted into a vein in the arm or hand by a nurse
- Through a tube that goes below the skin of your chest to a nearby vein (central line)
- Through a thin tube that is placed in a vein of the arm and goes up through a vein toward the chest (PICC)
Your nurse will give you streptozocin as a drip (perfusion) through a cannula or a line for about an hour. This kind of drip is usually given using a perfusion pump for the sake of timing.
Some people may have side effects while they are receiving chemotherapy.
On rare occasions, streptozocin can cause allergic reactions while it is being administered. The signs of a reaction may include the following: rash, itchiness, breathlessness; swelling in the face or lips; nausea; pain in the abdomen, back, or chest; or feeling unwell. Tell your nurse immediately if you have any of these symptoms.
PAIN ALONG THE VEIN
If you feel pain in your vein, let your nurse know immediately; they will check the puncture site and the rate of administration to relieve you of your pain.
DRUG LEAKAGE OUTSIDE THE VEIN
If this happens when you are receiving streptozocin, it can damage the tissue surrounding the vein. This is called extravasation. Inform the nurse immediately if you have stinging, pain, redness, or swelling around the vein. Extravasation is not common, but if it happens it is important that it be treated quickly.
If you have any of these symptoms after you get home, contact your doctor or nurse immediately.
YOUR TREATMENT COURSE
You will have streptozocin as part of a course or cycle, consisting of several treatment sessions and lasting several months. The number of cycles will depend on the type of cancer you have. Your doctor or nurse will tell you more about this and how many cycles you are going to have.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF STREPTOZOCIN
You may experience some of the side effects mentioned here, though it is rare for a patient to have all of them. If you receive other chemotherapy drugs, you may have other side effects that are not mentioned here. Always inform your doctor of the effects you experience.
Your doctor can prescribe medication to help control some of the side effects. It is very important to take the medication exactly as your doctor says for it to have the highest chance of working well. Your nurse will advise you on managing the side effects. After treatment, the side effects start to get better.
RISK OF INFECTION
Streptozocin may lower the number of white blood cells in your blood. This will make you more susceptible to infection. Your nurse can tell you when you might have the lowest levels of these cells. When the number of white blood cells is low, this is called neutropenia.
Contact your hospital immediately if any of the following happens:
- your temperature goes above 38 ° C
- you suddenly feel unwell, even if your temperature is normal.
- You have symptoms of infection, which may include sore throat, coughing, or the need to urinate frequently.
The number of white blood cells normally increases gradually, returning to normal before your next chemotherapy session. You will have a blood test before your next chemotherapy. If your white blood cells are still low, your doctor may postpone the treatment for a short period of time.
BRUISING AND BLEEDING
Streptozocin may lower the number of platelets in your blood. Platelets are cells that help the blood to clot. Tell your doctor if you have any unexplained bleeding or bruising. This includes nosebleeds, bleeding gums, blood spots, or skin eruptions (rashes). Some people may require additional platelets.
Streptozocin may lower the number of red blood cells in your blood. Red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body. If you have a low number of red blood cells, you may be tired and short of breath. Tell your doctor or nurse if you feel like this. If you are very anemic, it's possible you will require a blood transfusion.
This can happen on the first few days after chemotherapy. Your doctor will prescribe you antiemetic drugs to help prevent or control your nausea. It is easier to prevent nausea than it is to treat it once it has begun.
If you still have nausea or are vomiting, get in touch with the hospital as soon as possible. They can give you advice and change your medication to one that works better.
HIGH OR LOW BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS
Streptozocin can change your blood sugar levels. Your nurse will give you regular blood tests. They may also perform a urine analysis on you.
The symptoms of raised blood sugar include a feeling of increased thirstiness, a need to urinate more frequently, and fatigue. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have these symptoms. The symptoms of low blood sugar include dizziness, sweating, and disorientedness. If you have these symptoms, drink a sugary beverage and get in touch with your hospital.
If you are diabetic, you may need to test your blood-sugar levels more often. Your doctor will talk to you about how to manage this. You may need for your insulin dose and diabetes medication to be changed.
Feeling very tired is a common side effect. Fatigue is often worst toward the end of treatment and for a few months after the treatment has finished. Try to pace yourself and rest as much as you need to. Help balance this with a bit of light exercise, such as short walks. If you feel drowsy, don't drive or operate heavy machinery.
Streptozocin can cause changes in the way your kidneys work, although this will return to normal once your treatment is over. It is very unlikely you will notice any problems, though your doctor will take periodic blood samples to check whether your kidneys are working properly.
You may have weekly urine tests to see if you have protein build-up. This will also be checked for four weeks after your treatment is over.
CHANGES IN THE LIVER
Streptozocin can cause changes in the way your liver works, although this will return to normal once your treatment is over. It is very unlikely you will notice any problems, though your doctor will take periodic blood samples to check whether your liver is working properly.
EFFECTS ON THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
Streptozocin can affect the nervous system and cause mood swings or confusion. If you feel confused, don't drive or operate heavy machinery. Talk to your doctor or nurse, as they will be able to give you advice about what could help.
Your doctor can prescribe medicines to control diarrhea. Let them know if your diarrhea is severe or if it doesn't get better. Make sure you drink at least two liters of fluids each day if you have diarrhea.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT STREPTOZOCIN
BLOOD CLOT RISK
Cancer and chemotherapy increase the chances of a blood (thrombosis). The symptoms include pain, reddening or swelling in a leg, difficulty breathing, and pain in the chest. Get in touch with your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.
Some medicines can interact with chemotherapy or be harmful if they are taken alongside chemotherapy. This includes medications that can be purchased in a store or pharmacy. Tell your doctor the medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter medications, complementary therapies, and herbal medicines.
Streptozocin may affect your fertility. If this worries you, you can talk to your doctor before beginning treatment.
Your doctor will advise you not to become pregnant during the treatment. This is because the drugs can harm developing babies. It is important to use contraception during chemotherapy and for a few months after the treatment ends.
If you have sex within the first few days after chemotherapy, it is necessary to use a condom. This is to protect your partner in case there is chemotherapy in semen or vaginal fluid.
Women are recommended not to breastfeed during treatment and for a few months after chemotherapy has concluded. This is in case the chemotherapy enters their breast milk.
MEDICAL AND DENTAL TREATMENT
If you have to go to the hospital for whatever reason other than cancer, always tell the doctors and nurses that you are having chemotherapy.
Talk to your cancer doctor or nurse if you think you need dental treatment. Always let your dentist know that you are having chemotherapy.