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Bleomycin lasting lung effects high level endurance athletes

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  • Bleomycin lasting lung effects high level endurance athletes

    Hey all,

    I finished 3xBEP just over 2 and a half years ago, have been in full remission and everything going fine with checkups since

    Prior to starting chemo I did ask about Bleo and lung function and the Oncologist said for most amateur athletes you would not really notice the decrease in lung function as you are not maxing out your full genetic potential anyway.

    Well...I was a pretty good cyclist before, but have really stepped it up since recovering and am now at quite a high level, but feel I'm getting close to maxing out my gains. I don't regret putting my health first at all, but cyclists are extremely analytical and I can't help but wonder how many % I have lost to lung degradation?

    A few bits and pieces I have found from googling -

    Bleomycin is an effective anticancer agent, but it takes a harsh toll on the lungs. Had he put it in his body, Armstrong still would have beaten cancer, but his pro cycling career very likely would’ve been cut sadly short."

    "The second step was to substitute ifosfamide in the chemotherapy cocktail for the more commonly used bleomycin, a drug that has the side effect of slightly reducing lung function. For most men with testicular cancer, bleomycin would not be a serious issue. "A 5- to 10-per-cent loss of lung function isn't going to change our daily life," Dr. Nichols explained. "But to a professional athlete, it would be crippling as far as his career goes."
    So if there is anyone out there with good science/medical knowledge, are there any actual studies that quantify the losses? Does the lung degradation gradually go away or is it for life?


  • #2
    I’m a fairly avid tennis player who had similar concerns as you did. I scoured articles for this, and couldn’t find anything that was backed by hard data.

    In a way, that’s a good thing. It likely means there isn’t enough/anything there to merit a study.

    In my personal experience, I haven’t felt any reduction in my aerobic endurance, or lung capacity.

    If your really curious, doing a DLCO lung test, or measuring your VO2 max might be useful (assuming you had numbers from before chemo).

    Otherwise, rest easy, and assume you’re like your pre chemo self, and push yourself with no regrets!
    1/10 - Felt mass in right testicle.
    1/11 - LDH: 287 (max = 246), AFP: 16, HCG: 87
    1/18 - Orcheictomy. Non-sem, 80% EC, 15% Teratoma, 5% Yolk. LVI present. pT2, Tentative stage 1B.
    1/29 - Chest CT, Brain MRI, all clear
    2/19: HCG = 5.6, AFP = 13, LDH = 187 (ref = 340)
    2/20: Abdomen CT, 3 large lymph nodes, 0.8, 1.0 and 1.3. Stage 2A
    2/22: 3x BEP start
    2/22 - 4/26:
    AFP: 13, {11, 9, 5}, {4, 4, 3}, {3, 2, 2}
    HCG: 5.6, {2.7, <0.6, <0.6}, {<0.6, <0.6, <0.6}, {<0.6, <0.6, <0.6}
    LDH: 187, {208, 149, 196}, {215, 197, 222}, {277, 270, 240}
    5/3: CT scan, all clear. Lymph nodes <1cm (largest 0.8cm)
    7/5: Repeat MRI, lymph nodes unchanged. Markers still normal
    9/1: Repeat MRI, unchanged


    • #3
      Thanks Jerrie! I didn't have proper Vo2 max results pre chemo. Yep will just keep up the training and most of all just enjoy being out there healthy on my bike!


      • #4
        Originally posted by jerrie85 View Post
        Otherwise, rest easy, and assume you’re like your pre chemo self, and push yourself with no regrets!
        I would go a bit further, from your own description, you have now pushed yourself further than you ever did before TC. Be thankful for the gains, it seems fair to say they might never have happened if you hadn't had that experience.


        Jan, 1975: Right I/O, followed by RPLND
        Dec, 2009: Left I/O, followed by 3xBEP