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.