When does chemo leave the system?

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Question from Pardue: How long does chemotherapy remain in your system after you stop treatment? Is it possible to experience side effects from treatment that ended 3 years ago?
Answers - Christina Meyers I know the effects on brain function outlast the half-life of the actual drug itself.
George Sledge, M.D. Here we need to distinguish between how long the drug remains around and how long the side effect remains around. Most chemotherapy agents have had the vast majority of the chemotherapy metabolized or excreted by the body within 2-3 days of treatment. However, complications of therapy, such as if one damages an organ, can last for prolonged periods of time.
Christina Meyers That's why survivorship issues are so important. You could have Adriamycin (chemical name: doxorubicin) treatment and have heart issues long after the therapy is finished, so those issues are very important at this time.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Managing Chemo Brain featured Christina Meyers, Ph.D., A.B.P.P. and George Sledge, M.D. answering your questions about how long chemo brain can last, what treatments can be helpful, and current research on cognitive effects of breast cancer treatment.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in October 2008.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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