What Cancer Patients Should Know About Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR)

For cancer patients, successful chemotherapy treatment is not always the end of their pain and suffering. Chemotherapy drugs such as Taxotere can cause numerous permanent or long-lasting side effects such as epiphora (excessive tearing of the eyes). Unfortunately, cancer patients are not always properly informed of the risks associated with chemotherapy.

At times, these side effects may require a medical response of their own – as is the case with the excessive tearing many breast cancer survivors face. One of the “solutions” to excessive tearing is a procedure known as dacryocystorhinostomy or DCR. Many cancer survivors dealing with excessive tearing often undergo a DCR procedure but then face additional health problems as a result.

Your Taxotere lawsuit attorneys at Hotze Runkle PLLC understand that victims are not only facing health problems caused by chemotherapy but a myriad of other issues as well. If you believe you have been the victim of chemo-related tearing and permanently shut tear ducts, then please consider the following information.

About Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR)

In some cases, permanent side effects such as epiphora (excessive tearing) require further surgery after chemotherapy drug treatment has ended. Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) is a surgical procedure for treating excessive tearing, but this surgery can lead to further complications that require additional surgeries — which means that even if Taxotere is successful as a chemotherapy drug treatment, it can still cause more problems than anticipated.

Many cancer patients (especially breast cancer patients) treated with Taxotere and other chemotherapy drugs suffer from epiphora or excessive tearing of the eyes. The tear drains in our eyes lead to a small tube (the canaliculus) which empties into the lacrimal sac at the corner of the eye and nose. This leads to a tunnel called the nasolacrimal duct that goes through the bone around the nose and empties tears into the nasal cavity. When these pathways get obstructed, it leads to mucous buildup around the eye, excessive tearing and blurred vision, as well as tenderness and swelling.

Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) eliminates fluid and mucus retention in the eyes by removing the bone near the nasolacrimal sac and rearranging the sac to bypass duct obstruction. In other words, DCR increases tear drainage to relive epiphora, allowing tears to drain directly into the nasal cavity through a new low-resistance pathway.

Clearly, this surgical procedure is far removed from the original cancer that Taxotere was meant to treat — this is not what most chemotherapy patients ‘signed up for’ when battling cancer. If they were not properly informed of the possibility that DCR surgery would be necessary, they may have a case for Taxotere lawsuit attorneys, who can help determine whether the pharmaceutical company intentionally hid this information.

Risk Factors and Complications Associated with the DCR Procedure

As with any surgery, there are risk factors and complications for DCR that can replace or add to the epiphora (excessive tearing) it was meant to correct. The use of sedation, general or local anesthesia in surgery is always a risk factor that can cause nausea, seizures, heart or lung problems, amnesia (memory loss), and even death.

Depending on the type of DCR surgery (external or internal), patients can suffer from prominent facial scarring due to incisions around the eyes. Intraoperative complications can include blood hemorrhaging during the surgery and leaking of brain fluid as doctors must penetrate into bone. There is also a risk of direct injury to orbital contents as doctors use sharp instruments, as well as the possibility that the lacrimal sac is not completely opened, resulting in lacrimal sump syndrome and a failed procedure.

Postoperative complications can include infections, sinusitis (inflamed sinuses), the early loss of the silicone tube used to rearrange the tear pathway, and the need for further surgeries. The prognosis for DCR surgery is positive, but success rates are still only 90-95%, which means there are indeed failures and complications that victims may undergo.

Duct-related surgery is not always ideal for patients, and thus victims dealing with excessive tearing caused by chemotherapy medications like Taxotere can end up dealing with additional complications that the drug manufacturers did not warn them about.

Have You Suffered Unexpected Side Effects from Chemotherapy Drug Treatment?

Cancer patients have a lot of information to process and the law requires pharmaceutical companies to clearly communicate the complications and side effects of any chemotherapy drug treatment.

Taxotere, in particular, has proven to be a problematic drug for cancer patients, with permanent or long-term consequences that negatively impact health, happiness and quality of life.

Do not hesitate to contact Taxotere lawsuit attorneys of Hotze Runkle PLLC if you or a loved one is suffering from excessive tearing or other eye-related complications as a result of chemotherapy.

An Overview of Taxotere and Excessive Tearing

Chemotherapy treatment is meant to cure individuals of cancer, prolong life, or is used for palliative care.

Unfortunately, the chemotherapy drugs used during treatment can also have side effects of their own that last long after treatment has ended. These side effects can be permanent, leading to serious quality of life issues that have nothing to do with the original cancer.

One chemotherapy drug in particular – Taxotere (docetaxel) – which is manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis, currently has 8,000 pending lawsuits, particularly among breast cancer survivors. Plaintiffs are filing lawsuits for false marketing and the company’s role in downplaying the severity of the drug’s side effects. One of the major side effects of Taxotere is watery eyes (epiphora) caused by lacrimal duct obstruction (LDO) and keratoconjunctivitis (dry eye syndrome) which has lead to issues such as constant itchiness, swollen eyelids and increased eye “floaters.”

If you or a loved one is fighting against excessive tearing caused by a chemotherapy drug, contact Hotze Runkle PLLC today at (877) 919-0830 for a consultation.

What is Taxotere?

Taxotere is an anti-cancer chemotherapy drug used to treat a variety of cancers including breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, neck cancer, stomach cancer and head cancer. The drug was first approved twenty years ago for metastatic breast cancer and has since affected thousands of cancer patients with its long-term side effects, particularly epiphora (watery eyes), but also others such as alopecia (permanent hair loss).

These side effects can cause irreparable harm to an individual’s quality of life including affecting their mental health.

About Sanofi-Aventis: The Manufacturer Behind Taxotere (Docetaxel)

Sanofi S.A. is a French multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Paris, France, and the world’s fifth-largest by prescription sales. The company merged with Aventis in 2004.

Despite marketing Taxotere since 1998, it wasn’t until 2014 that Sanofi and the FDA released a full description of warnings and adverse reactions for patients who used specific doses of the drug. This information surely would have made cancer patients think twice about choosing this particular chemotherapy drug, if the information had been available to them earlier.

Health Complications Caused by Taxotere

Because Sanofi-Aventis failed to provide adequate warning about Taxotere’s side effects, particularly epiphora (excessive tearing), thousands of cancer patients have suffered long-term and permanent damages even after they successfully defeated their cancer.

Some of the specific eye-related issues chemotherapy drugs such as Taxotere cause include:

  • Excessive tearing (epiphora)
  • Blurred or dulled vision
  • Clouding of the lens of the eye
  • Loss of areas of vision (cystoid macular edema)
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye infections
  • Dry eyes (keratoconjunctivitis sicca)
  • Swollen eyelids

Epiphora can affect patients in two primary ways: either by an overproduction of tears and mucus or by preventing the proper draining of tears through the lacrimal apparatus. The lacrimal apparatus is the system of ducts and sacs that create the tears and then moves them out through the nasal cavity.

The obstruction of these ducts can occur as a result of infection, an inflammatory disorder, physical trauma, or surgery. In some cases, bacteria can also cause infection and blockage of these ducts.

When the tear ducts are blocked, tears begin to build up in the tear sac and can increase the risk of infection that can lead to inflammation next to the eye.

Treatment for excessive tearing depends on the severity of the problem as well as the cause. One of the most commonly recommended treatments is a surgical procedure known as

dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR). However, this treatment can cause health issues as well including scarring, post-surgery infections, or Jones tubes – which are used to facilitate the flow of tears from the eyes to the nose – may migrate leading to a need for additional surgery.

About the DCR Procedure

The consequences of Taxotere’s unadvertised side effects ranged from constant physical pain and discomfort (itchiness, swelling) to a reduction in a victim’s quality of life due to psychological or emotional damage (e.g., caused by alopecia or permanent hair loss).

Excessive tearing (epiphora), in particular, can lead to difficulty reading, driving, issues with eyesight, and can negatively affect a patient’s quality of life. Treatment of this side effect depends on how severe the problem is. In mild cases, the doctor may just monitor the patient’s health to ensure that no major damage is caused. In severe cases, surgery may be encouraged.

The surgical procedure to create a new channel from the tear sac to the inside of the nose is known as dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR). This surgery is intended to allow the tears to bypass the blocked duct and work correctly.

However, there are a number of risks associated with the DCR procedure including:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Prominent facial scars
  • Infection
  • Displaced stent that can lead to other eye-related issues
  • Abnormally fused tissue in the nose
  • Non-effective procedure
  • Blindness may occur with damage to the infraorbital vessels or optic nerve

These risks differ according to things such as age, health conditions, and the reasons for the procedure.

FAQs About Excessive Tearing Caused by Chemotherapy Drugs

1. Who are the victims of excessive tearing caused by chemotherapy drugs?

Anyone who has suffered long-term and permanent side effects or damage such as physical pain and discomfort, or even emotional or psychological distress as a result of chemotherapy drug treatment, has a case for product liability against the manufacturer.

Generally speaking, however, excessive tearing has profoundly affected breast cancer survivors. Individuals who have undergone chemotherapy treatment for prostate, lung, stomach, neck and head cancer may also be susceptible to excessive tearing.

2. Do I have a successful claim against the company that hurt me?

If your life, physical or mental health has been negatively affected, then the short answer is yes — you may have a case. Product liability lawyers can review your medical records and help you determine whether you are one of the thousands of cancer patients who have fallen victim to the permanent and long-term chemotherapy drug side effects that you never ‘signed up’ for.

3. Should I sue a chemotherapy drug manufacturer if my cancer was successfully treated?

Sometimes cancer patients are hesitant to “complain” about side effects either because they accept them as normal consequences of treatment or they are so grateful to beat cancer that they minimize post-cancer side effects. Going through chemotherapy does not mean you have to bear or accept any subsequent side effects if the pharmaceutical company has failed to adequately inform or warn you, or has deliberately been guilty of false marketing or downplaying the severity of side effects.

The battle of a cancer survivor is a life-changing experience. Life after chemotherapy should be long and full of happiness. If Taxotere or another chemotherapy drug has destroyed, reduced or damaged this happiness, then you have a legal right to hold the pharmaceutical company responsible for your pain.

Hotze Runkle PLLC has fought hard to represent people who have suffered permanent side effects as a result of corporations putting profits over people. The attorneys at Hotze Runkle PLLC continues to hold these corporations like Sanofi-Aventis responsible for negligence, false marketing, and downplaying the severity of their chemotherapy drug’s side effects.

Do not hesitate to contact the product liability lawyers of Hotze Runkle PLLC at (877) 919-0830 if you or a loved one are suffering from excessive tearing as the result of being treated with a chemotherapy drug such as Taxotere.