Chemotherapy without steroids?

I’m due to start AC Thursday this week.

Just wondering if anyone’s done chemotherapy of any sort without the steroids? I really don’t like the sound of the side effects, particularly the mood-altering ones. I’m terrified I’ll end up with ante-natal depression if I start to swing from elation to the depths of despair, with sleepless nights thrown in for good measure.

Has anyone here declined? How many doses are recommended? Is it just a one-off dose, given in the IV?

Thanks girls, I’m just full of questions at the moment! xxx

I don’t think your onc or bcn will approve - they are very insistent on you taking them in case you have an allergic reaction to the chemo. Although on Tax I was allowed to reduce the dose a little after the first round was uneventful - the dose for tax is higher than for FEC so I think that was the reason. The steroids aren’t much fun but it is only a few days.

As I am an insulin dependent diabetic I was not very keen to take steroids, as they raise the blood sugar level and make the control difficult to manage.

I was given IV steroids with the tax so I couldn’t do much about that but, although I took them I did take a much lower dose than they recommended.

It was something like 20 mg x 2 per day the day BEFORE chemo, the same the day of chemo, the same the day after and the day after that. I didn’t take them the day of chemo and halved the dose for the following 3 days. If I ever have to have chemo again I would try to do it without steroids, might as well let the SE hit straight away eh.

Good luck


The steroids are also important to prevent swelling, which can be significant with Tax. I had one episode when I was on a steroid buzz; got lots of cleaning done, but apart from that, didn’t notice anything.

Julia xx

Steroids are important to control the more serious side effects, especially the docetaxel. It can cause a brain swelling, the steriods help to avoid this. As someone else says its only for a few days, I had a few sleepless nights, like my brain couldn’t be switched off, but nothing compared to what brain swelling my cause.

I found the sleeplessness the worst se, plus a bit of “coming down” after they stopped. Taking the tablets as early as possible in the day helps - no later than lunch time - and I also found Nytol helped me to sleep. Don’t like the sound of brain swelling at all!

Steroids really messed me up . I ate ate ate then when i finished them i physically crashed and coulndt do anything. I had a 1 and 2 yr old so this was hopeless. The 2nd cycle i halved the dose and felt better and then the 3rd cycle i only took one days worth and this worked for me until the end.

Its personal so id say take the first cycle as normal and see how you feel? They are supposed to help with the sickness but i was never sick and only felt mildly quesey.

good luck

Oh my god, my onc told me only 1 in 200 women got side effects from steroids, along the lines of sleepless nights and uppers-and-downers! Sounds like nearly everyone here suffered!

Brain swelling definitely sounds bad. Jeez, the good news just keeps on coming. Perhaps I’ll ask about a lower dose.

thank you all so much for sharing your experiences.

Hi jane72

If you would like to talk this through with one of the BCC trained members of staff on the helpline please don’t hesitate to give them a call on 0808 800 600. Everyone working on the helpline either has experience of breast cancer, or is a breast care nurse, and has an excellent knowledge of breast cancer issues. The lines are open Monday to Friday 9 to 5pm and Saturday 9 to 2pm.

Best wishes
Sam, BCC Facilitator

I had 12 doses of chemo in all as my last 4 were doubles a week apart. I started to realise that my main side effects were coming from the steroids, which was blurred vision so I could not drive or focus clearly for a few days. So they let me drop them but only because I was on the cmf cycle which is generally gentler for most people. I did do this by reducing one tablet each cycle. Tax is very different though so I think maybe you should have everything first time and then discuss it as steroids do support your system and tax is a toughie but it is also the gold standard treatment and was £999 a go so actually might be your best friend when it comes to BC. All the symptoms are very short term from the steroids, just a few days and although it is a lot easier without littles to look after when they keep you awake (steroids and littles!)it is just for those few days so maybe you can plan some help for when you need it. I used to do jigsaws on those days so my tired body could sit still and tigger bouncy brain had something to keep it amused. Take care and to be honest i think the steroids will be much less of a probnlem than you think. Remember to paint all your nails with very dark nail polish as you can lose nails on tax if the light gets to your nailbeds.
Take care and keep your chin up, you are doing so well with so much else to worry about
Love and hugs
Lily x

I don’t think we are on the same chemo ( 3xfec 3x tax) but I wanted to say I haven’t found the steroids with fec a problem at all- I know you do get more with tax. I was quite concerned because I’m the sort of person who can’t drink a can of coke after 1 pm without the caffeine keeping me up half the night. I was given 2 dextra… something or other to take each morning for 3 days and I didn’t notice any side effects. I was also told that they add into the antisickness regime as well as help prevent allergic reactions. Hope your pregnancy is going well. You are right to question everything at the moment, you have a baby to protect as well as yourself to look after. Debx