1. Health

What should I do about acid reflux during chemotherapy?


Updated April 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: What should I do about acid reflux during chemotherapy?
I have developed really bad acid reflux since starting chemotherapy two weeks ago. Is this normal? What can I take for acid reflux if I am taking chemotherapy?
Answer: Acid reflux, often called heartburn, can be common while undergoing chemotherapy and after treatment has ended. It is very common, even in people not undergoing chemotherapy, and can range from mild to severe. Acid reflux has many causes, including cancer treatment.

Cancer cells divide at a high mitotic rate, meaning they divide quickly -- much more than most of the cells in our body. Chemotherapy drugs work by targeting these rapidly dividing cells. Some cells in our bodies do rapidly divide, like the cells in the lining of our stomach and digestive tract, which protect our digestive organs from acidic stomach acid. Chemotherapy drugs simple cannot tell the difference between these normal, rapidly dividing cells and cancer cells, so the drug attack these cells as well.

Over-the-counter (OTC) acid reflux medication may be all you need to relieve your acid reflux, but be sure to ask your doctor before beginning any medication. If OTC remedies aren't effective, your doctor can be prescribe a medication to control your acid reflux. When experiencing acid reflux, try to keep a heartburn record to determine if a certain food or activity triggers it. Some people find fried foods or carbonated beverages to cause or worsen it. Keeping track of when it occurs can help you to eliminate foods or other things that exacerbate. Quick Tip for Preventing Heartburn

Related Video
Heartburn and Acid Reflux Testing - Endoscopy
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Cancer
  4. Treatment of Cancer
  5. Chemotherapy
  6. Chemotherapy Side Effects
  7. What Should I Do About Acid Reflux During Chemotherapy?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.