Chemotherapy drugs kill all cells that divide rapidly, including cancer cells.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to attack and kill cells that divide quickly. This includes both cancer cells and some normal cells. How chemotherapy drugs affect those normal cells depends on the types of drugs you get and your response to them.
Doctors inject chemotherapy for carcinoma of unknown primary origin (CUP) into one of your veins. This lets it spread through your entire body to kill cancer cells. The drugs you receive depend on the area of your body where the cancer first showed signs. Your doctor may give you chemotherapy in an attempt to cure CUP. Or you may get it to try to slow the growth of the cancer.
Chemotherapy is often given in combinations of two or more drugs. The exact chemotherapy "cocktail" will depend on where the cancer has spread to, what coexisting medical problems you have, the toxic effects the chemotherapy may have, and where it is most likely that the cancer started. These are common drugs used to treat CUP:
VePesid or VP-16 (etoposide)
Many brands of cisplatin or carboplatin
5-FU or Adrucil (fluorouracil)
Chemotherapy affects both normal cells and cancer cells. Side effects depend on the type and amount of drugs you take. Ask your doctor which ones are the most common for the drugs you are taking.
Here are some common side effects the people with carcinoma of unknown primary origin (CUP) have when they take chemotherapy:
Blood count change
Bruising and bleeding
Nausea and vomiting
Tiredness and fatigue
Ask your doctor or chemotherapy nurse to help you ease these side effects.