This leaflet provides information on a course of chemotherapy called ECarboF. The leaflet will explain what this is and when and how it is given. It will also tell you about common side effects that you may experience. Contact telephone numbers and details of how to obtain further information on ECarboF are given at the end of the leaflet.
This leaflet should be read alongside the ‘General information for patients receiving chemotherapy’ folder. If you haven’t received this folder please ask your nurse for a copy.
What is ECarboF chemotherapy?
ECarboF chemotherapy consists of three drugs:
These three chemotherapy drugs have been in use for many years. When they are combined they are known as ECarboF for short.
Why am I having ECarboF chemotherapy?
Your doctor has recommended ECarboF chemotherapy because it has been found to be effective in treating your type of cancer.
Will I need any tests before I have my chemotherapy?
You will need a series of blood tests before you start your chemotherapy. One of these blood tests helps us to check that your kidneys are working well enough to cope with the chemotherapy.
How often will I have my chemotherapy?
For this treatment to be most effective it will be given at specific time intervals. These are known as cycles. It is usual to have a cycle of ECarboF every three weeks for up to six cycles. Your doctor will discuss with you the exact number of cycles you will have.
Will I need to stay in hospital for this treatment?
Yes, you will need to stay in hospital for five or six days during each cycle of chemotherapy. You will be admitted to the chemotherapy unit at Velindre Cancer Centre. This is also known as the Princess Margaret Ward.
How will my treatment be given?
Your chemotherapy will be given through an infusion (drip). The drip will be connected to a small needle which will be put into the back of your hand or in your arm. It is important that you tell your nurse if the drip becomes uncomfortable or painful.
During your stay in hospital you will be connected to your drip. The drip will be connected to a portable stand with wheels so you will be able to move around the ward area. If you need help a nurse will be available.
The epirubicin and carboplatin chemotherapy drugs are given on the first day of each cycle. The 5-FU is given over the next four days.
Can I bring relatives and friends with me?
You are welcome to bring someone to stay with you during your treatment. Space is limited so there is not usually room for more than one person. Treatment areas are not suitable for young children.
What are the possible side effects?
There are a number of possible side effects which can occur with ECarboF. The doctors, nurses and pharmacy team can give you advice or answer any questions you may have.
Unfortunately you will lose your hair with this chemotherapy. Your hair will grow back when your treatment has finished. A method know as ‘scalp cooling’ or ‘cold capping’ can be used to prevent hair loss. If you would like more information about scalp cooling or wigs please speak to your nurse.
We have a leaflet that tells you more on coping with hair loss. Please ask your nurse if you would like a copy.
Nausea and vomiting are uncommon these days as we will give you anti-sickness medicines which are usually extremely effective. If you are sick more than once in 24 hours despite taking regular anti-sickness medicine when you are at home after your chemotherapy treatment, contact Velindre Cancer Centre for advice. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.
You are at an increased risk of picking up infections because your white blood cells which help fight infections can be reduced by this treatment.
If you develop an infection whilst your white blood cells are low, you are at risk of sepsis, this can be life threatening.
Contact Velindre Cancer Centre immediately if you develop any signs of infection, for example flu like symptoms or a temperature above 37.5°centigrade or if your temperature is below 35.5°. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.
You may have diarrhoea with this chemotherapy. If this occurs it is important that you drink plenty of fluids. Medication is available to control diarrhoea. If you have four or more bowel movements in 24 hours above what is normal for you please contact Velindre Cancer Centre immediately. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.
Tiredness and fatigue
Chemotherapy can make you feel more tired than usual. It is important to listen to your body and rest if you need to, but carry out your normal activities if you feel able. Some people find it beneficial to take gentle exercise as well as rest.
Your mouth may become sore or you may notice small ulcers. Please follow the advice on caring for your mouth in the general chemotherapy leaflet.
Your doctor may prescribe mouthwashes or medication to prevent or clear any infection.
Allergic type reaction
A small number of patients experience an allergic type reaction to carboplatin. If this occurs you may feel hot or flushed, itchy, light-headed or generally unwell whilst receiving your carboplatin. This can be easily treated. Please tell your nurse immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
We will move you to one of the day units to be given the carboplatin so we can monitor you closely for any allergic reaction.
Skin and tissue damage
Some chemotherapy drugs may damage the skin and surrounding area if they leak outside of your vein. This is known as extravasation. It is extremely rare but it is important that you tell us immediately if you notice any swelling, pain or burning at the site of the drip. If this occurs whilst the chemotherapy is being given, tell your nurse. If you notice pain, swelling or redness when you’re at home please contact us immediately. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.
A diagnosis of cancer can increase your risk of developing a blood clot (thrombosis), and having cancer treatment may increase this risk further. It is important to tell your doctor immediately if you have symptoms such as pain, redness and swelling in your leg, or breathlessness and chest pain.
Blood clots can be very serious. However, most clots can usually be successfully treated with drugs to thin the blood. Your doctor or nurse can give you more information.
Other side effects
Some patients experience sore or watery eyes. Please tell your doctor or nurse at your next clinic appointment if this occurs.
This chemotherapy may cause some heart problems. If you have a heart condition or you take any heart medication, please tell your doctor before you start chemotherapy.
Epirubicin will harmlessly discolour your urine red for a day after your chemotherapy. If this lasts for more than 24 hours please contact your doctor or nurse.
Women sometimes find that chemotherapy treatment affects their periods.
They could become heavier, lighter or even stop altogether.
It is important you do not become pregnant or father a child whilst having chemotherapy treatment as chemotherapy could damage the unborn baby.
ECarboF chemotherapy can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. It is best to avoid strong sunlight, wear a hat and use a sun block.
Sometimes cancer drugs can have very serious side effects which rarely can be life threatening. It is important to inform Velindre cancer centre if you are concerned about any side-effects.
Manufacturer’s patient information leaflets
Velindre leaflets provide information about very common and commonly reported side-effects (we are unable to list all of the common side effects), for more information regarding these and the less common side-effects please refer to the manufacturers patient information leaflets, obtained from Velindre pharmacy and/or on the internet at www.medicines.org.uk. Sometimes patients may find these leaflets difficult to read however. Please ask if you would like a copy from your doctor or from Velindre pharmacy
Contact telephone numbers
Velindre Cancer Centre 029 2061 5888
Ask for the treatment helpline if you are unwell at home and need immediate advice at any time of the day or night. For example you should phone if you:
Pharmacy department 029 2061 5888 ext 6223
Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm for queries about your medicines
Macmillan freephone Helpline 0808 808 0000
Tenovus freephone 0808 808 1010
This information is also available in Welsh
This leaflet was written by health professionals. The information contained in this leaflet is evidence based. It has been approved by doctors, nurses and patients. It is reviewed and updated every 2 years.