Some chemotherapy drugs can damage the kidneys (nephrotoxicity). The kidneys break down and remove many chemotherapy drugs from the body. When chemotherapy drugs break down, they make products that can damage cells in the kidneys, ureters and bladder. The potential for kidney damage varies with the type of chemotherapy drug used.
Chemotherapy drugs that can cause kidney damage include:
Whether or not a chemotherapy drug will cause kidney damage depends on:
Some symptoms that may suggest kidney damage and impaired kidney (renal) function include:
Symptoms can occur during chemotherapy treatment and may be temporary. Kidney function can be affected for several years and may be permanent. Damage may be mild to severe. If severe, it can lead to kidney failure.
Before chemotherapy starts, kidney function may be checked to make sure there are no major problems. This can also be done during treatments to ensure that nothing has changed. Blood tests are usually done to check kidney function and to check fluid and electrolyte balance.
The healthcare team takes measures to help prevent and manage kidney problems that may occur because of chemotherapy. Some of these measures include:
Tell the doctor or healthcare team about any swelling or puffiness that happens suddenly. Let them know about any changes in urination.
You can help prevent kidney problems and cope with symptoms by taking the following steps:
For more detailed information on specific drugs, go to sources of drug information.
The Canadian Cancer Society is actively lobbying the federal government to establish a national caregivers strategy to ensure there is more financial support for this important group of people.