Specialist Haematology Services

Z-DEX


Introduction Show [+]Hide [-]

This information sheet is offered as a guide to you and your family. Your treatment will be fully explained by your doctor or nurse, who will be happy to answer any questions.

Your Treatment: Your doctor has prescribed for you a treatment known as Z-DEX. This treatment is given every three weeks (a maximum of six cycles). The number of days prescribed will be discussed with you by the doctor and nurse. This treatment can only be prescribed by your hospital doctor.

The treatment consists of the following chemotherapy drugs:-

Zavedos (Idarubicin) and Dexamethasone.

• These drugs come in tablet form and should be swallowed before or after food.
• Do not chew or break the tablets.
• The dosage and time you should take the drugs will be printed on the boxes. The nurse will check this with you after collection from pharmacy.
• If you miss a dose or take too many please inform the unit.
• You will be given a personal chemotherapy record book in which your blood results, drugs and dosages are written. A full blood count is taken prior to each treatment to check your blood count has recovered enough to offer you the next course.

The dexamethasone is best taken early in the day as it is a steroid and may keep you awake if taken in the evening. It may also increase your appetite. For your first cycle of treatment dexamethasone is given for a longer period.

Common side effectsShow [+]Hide [-]

As each patient is an individual your experience will be different to other patients receiving chemotherapy. Common side effects that you may experience during treatment are:

• Nausea and vomiting (sickness)
The severity of any nausea and vomiting will vary from person to person. You will be given some anti-sickness tablets to take home. If you continue to feel sick, contact the day unit, as your anti-sickness medication may need to be changed or increased.

• Sore Mouth
Following treatment you may develop a sore mouth and may notice mouth ulcers. Avoid very hot spicy foods. To help prevent oral infections brush your teeth at least twice a day and drink plenty of fluids. To prevent any mouth ulcers becoming infected you should use an anti-bacterial mouthwash. Ask your doctor or nurse to recommend one that is suitable.

• Bone Marrow Suppression
Your bone marrow is where your blood cells are made (these are the red cells, white cells, and platelets) to replace those naturally worn out by the body. Chemotherapy interferes with this process and the number of the cells in your blood can become lower than normal. This means following your treatment you could become:

• Prone to infection: White cells fight infection, a low white count can make you prone to infection. You may develop a sore throat, cough, high temperature, shivering or other symptoms, which may be due to infection. A normal temperature is between 36°C and 37°C. If your temperature is above 37.5°C or if you develop shivering or any other symptoms, which may be due to an infection, contact Ward 6b or 8 immediately.

• Anaemia: Red cells carry oxygen around your body, a shortage of these cells is called anaemia. You may feel dizzy, out of breath or unusually tired and you may look pale.

• Prone to bleeding: Platelets help to clot your blood and slow down bleeding. A low platelet count may make you prone to bleeding, this usually takes the form of nose-bleeds, bruising or bleeding gums.

You will have a routine blood test before each treatment to monitor the effects of the chemotherapy. Please contact Ward 6b or Ward 8 if you experience any of these symptoms.

• Discoloured urine
Idarubicin may discolour your urine red for up to 48 hours following treatment. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.

• Heart damage
Idarubicin may be harmful to your heart. As a precaution your doctor may arrange for you to have an ECG ( heart tracing ) or other heart tests before starting treatment.

• Skin colouring
Sometimes as a result of the chemotherapy your skin may appear darker in colour, especially around the joints. This is known as hyperpigmentation. The skin will return to normal when the treatment is finished.

• Hair loss
As a result of your treatment you may experience hair loss The hair falls out gradually 10 to 14 days following your first course of treatment. The time scale varies from person to person. Please remember that this is a temporary side effect and your hair will grow back when your treatment is completed. Your nurse will arrange for you to be provided with a wig if required. A scalp cooling service to prevent or reduce hair loss is available in this trust and is located at the Northern Centre for Cancer Treatment (NCCT). If you wish to have further details please ask your nurse or doctor. An information sheet is available re managing hair loss.

• Sex pregnancy and family planning.
If you are having chemotherapy it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have sex, but you may nit feel like it. If there is a chance of pregnancy, you must use effective contraception while on chemotherapy. If you suspect that you may be pregnant please tell your doctor immediately. Chemotherapy may affect your ability to have children in the future – please discuss this with your doctor or chemotherapy nurse before treatment.

• Fatigue
Many people feel tired and have low energy levels whilst undergoing chemotherapy. There is very little you can do to avoid this but research has shown that patients who suffer fatigue need to take gentle exercise and rest often. This feeling of fatigue is quite normal and energy levels will begin to improve once treatment is completed.

Please remember side effects are usually temporary. If you experience any of them, discuss them with your doctor or nurse.

Contact numbersShow [+]Hide [-]

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your treatment please contact:

  • Ward 6b (Monday – Friday, 8.00am – 5.00pm) - tel: 0191 282 4388
    Ward 8 (Available at all times), tel: 0191 282 5008

Further information

For further information regarding the drugs you receive, contact Macmillan Cancer Support.

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