A new study has shown certain cancer drugs can cause kidney injury in patients. Kidney injury, known formally as acute renal failure can happen over a few hours or days and can potentially last a lifetime. It is most commonly found in those very ill to begin with and symptoms include decreased urinary output, swelling, nausea, fatigue, and shortness of breath. But symptoms might be very subtle or not detectable at all. If not treated properly, it can prove to be fatal.
About 163,000 patients starting chemotherapy or targeted therapies for a new cancer diagnosis in Ontario from 2007 to 2014 were involved. Of that number, 10,880 were hospitalized with serious
kidney damage or for dialysis. One in 10 cancer patients treated with chemotherapy or newer targeted drugs might be hospitalized with cumulative acute kidney injury with a rate of 9.3 percent. Those
afflicted with advanced tumors were 41 percent more likely get acute kidney injury. Those who already had chronic kidney disease were 80 percent more likely to be contract the illness. Those with diabetes
had a 43 percent greater chance of contracting acute kidney injury.
The reason for this risk of injury is the nature of the kidneys. The kidneys are used by the body to filter the blood as it passes through them. These natural filters remove the toxins and impurities and
allow them to be removed through urine. After the chemotherapy drugs are used by the body, what is left flows through the kidney, some of those drugs causing damage while on their way out. Experts say patients were more than twice as likely to develop acute kidney problems within the first 90 days of starting cancer treatment than later on.
Drugs which cause Kidney damage occurs in 30% or more of patients include:
- Cisplatin (Platinol)
- Cytarabine (Cytosar-U®)
- Gemcitabine (Gemzar®)
- Ifosfamide (Ifex®)
- Interleukin-2 (Proleukin®)
- Streptozocin (Zanosar®)
Drugs which are known to to cause damage in 10-29% of all patients include:
- Carboplatin (Paraplatin®)
- Gemtuzumab ozogamicin (Mylotarg®)
- Melphalan (Alkeran®)
- Methotrexate (Rheumatrex®)
- Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin®)
- Pemetrexed (Alimta®)
- Plicamycin (Mithracin®)
- Trimetrexate (Neutrexin®)
Experts say reducing the risk of acute kidney injury through good hydration and in some cases, avoiding certain drugs which cause the damage. Medications to avoid include ibuprofen and other non-
steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs). In addition, patients should watch for certain blood pressure medicines, and diuretics. Older patients taking water pills or certain heart medications are also
high risk. Patients should talk to their doctor for treatment when dehydration or infection show up.
These are symptoms related to kidney injury and, if these are not taken care of, injury will occur. Patients at high risk for kidney disease and injury should be discussing cancer drug alternative with their doctors. This is especially true if they are already afflicted with other diseases like diabetes or any other chronic disease. But some drugs can be less effective when combating tumors. Patients need to be mindful of their own symptoms and be ready to contact their physician the moment something suspicious comes up. Experts say cancer patients who develop kidney injury have reduced cancer survival odds.
There are several treatments for kidney injury and, depending on the level of damage and quality of care, it can be reversed. Treatment focuses on preventing the excess accumulation of fluids and wastes while allowing the kidneys to heal once cancer treatment has ended.
Methods used include:
- Diuretics, prescribed by a doctor, increase the amount of water you excrete in the urine
- Sodium polystyrene sulfonate, lowers the amount of potassium in your blood by binding with the potassium already inside you so that it may be excreted. This medication may be taken by mouth or in the form of an enema.
- Diet modification may be recommended and could involve restricting certain foods such as those high in protein, sodium (salt) and potassium
- Dialysis is the use of machines to screen one’s blood for toxins
- Drugs, certain drugs such Amifostine (Ethyol®), sodium thiosulfate, and diethyldithiocarbamate may be useful in preventing or reducing the toxicity associated with certain drugs.
Another great remedy for acute kidney damage due to chemotherapy is Black Cumin Seed Oil, AKA, Nigella Sativa. It can improve kidney function after damage, restore function, reduce inflammation, and reduce free radical cell damage. Its main component, thymoquinone showed positive effects in prevention or curing kidney stones and renal failure in addition to having powerful anticancer effects.
Nigella Sativa can help repair kidney damage sustained from antibiotics, sudden blood loss and damage sustained by chemotherapy itself. There are other areas where the herb has a great deal of use such as antibacterial, antifungal, helps balance the immune system, it is a powerful antioxidant, as medications, helping healing burns and accelerating recovery after surgery. It has strong antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-eicosanoid and immunomodulatory effects. The recommended dose is four pills a day.
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