What is the chemo smell? - page 2

This is a perception-based question about smell. I've never talked to anyone about this, but would like to know if anyone knows what I am talking about. I have been around some patients who I... Read More

  1. by   mario_ragucci
    Originally posted by caroladybelle
    The cancer smell is worse in patients with necrosing tumors - while most of us consider that "normal" when we see it on the outside of the body (fulminating breast masses, etc. ), we often forget that it may also be occurring inside the body. Thus, lung cancers may be rotting on the surface of the lung and we smell it coming out in their breath or other byproducts. Gross, I know, but true. Also, large masses may start to die in the core - farthest from the already overtaxed blood supply - causing internal infection and odor in byproducts.

    In addition, as the cancer takes all the nutrients, the body begans to use fat stores for energy - the breakdown products have a smell/taste to them. I liken it to the bad taste in your mouth from fasting for periods of time (d/t diets, illness,culture).

    Sorry to be so graphic, Mario, hope this helps.
    Thank you very much for this connection you made for me! And thank you to all the other responses. The way chemotherapy effects human metabolism can help me to better understand human metabolism. Chemo effects metabolism, in many different ways. Like a diabetic in keto-acidosis, the fat breakdown makes a smell. General cell break down makes a detectable smell.

    I haven't smelt death yet, but i guess death would have the smell of dying/dead cells. Not creepy. An excellent opportunity to learn. Thank you all very much. Radiation would then create a smell. Our bodies are so complex.
  2. by   shygirl
    I wonder, when we smell these smells, do they enter our bodies in any way?

    Also, if we have to crush meds do some of the fine dust particle also get inhaled?
  3. by   TracyB,RN
    Just a tidbit about the purple tint to foley bags, Hubby's gram's bag has this tint. . . doc was here today & said that sometimes certain infections can cause the tint . . . so here we sit waiting for U/A, C&S.
  4. by   adrienurse
    When I used to crush meds I'd always insist on wearing a mask. I once accidentally inhaled a bit of clonazepam and got really dizzy with a pounding headache. Now we have a machine that stips the particles from going into the air because the pills are in little baggies.
  5. by   caroladybelle
    A patient once wanted me to open Thalidomide capsules, dump them in ice cream - no freaking way in the world I would do that !!!! It would put every woman of child bearing years that enterred the room in danger. But trying to get that through to the patient was difficult. Then another RN (w/tied tubes) on another shift did it for the patient. Set a really bad precedent. Ticked everyone on the unit off majorly. I wanted to show her that film of all the deformed babies in Europe, born when the drug was legal.
  6. by   pfleige
    There is also a defect of metabolism, I think is protein breakdown that some people allthough rare have that produces an smell all the time, this people have to practicly expend their lifes washing themselves. Not a good picture to have! If you come across it even outside of the hospital you will know!
  7. by   kids
    Originally posted by sunnygirl272
    ok..slightly off this topic....anyone know what would stain a foley bag purple? no, it's not food...have a patient inhome care...
    I have NO clue...had several patients in SNFs whos bags did it too, never could find a common med or even a common med/food type combination in them.

  8. by   NurseDennie
    I've heard of a couple of things about discolored urine. Some ppl think it's bacterial degradation of tryptophan in the intestine. There have been some things written about it, but I think they've pretty much decided that it's not much of a muchly, so haven't put time/$$/attention into it.

    Also seems that I've read that Mad King George had some disease that caused his urine to be discolored and I'm thinking it was purple. I'll look and see what I can find. hmmmm - maybe that's why purple was the color of royalty??


  9. by   I1tobern

    You are not crazy. Chemo does smell. Urine and bm have a VERY concentrated smell. When I was taking chemo, I could smell it, and as soon as it hit the vein, I could taste it. Kinda reminds ya of sucking on the tail pipe of a car. If I ever get caught in traffic, I will get deathly sick, because of the smell.