Chemotherapy treatment of cancer
Chemotherapy is a pharmacological treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cancer cells in the body. Doctors often use it to treat cancer, as cancer cells grow and multiply much faster than most cells in the body.
Many different chemotherapy drugs are available. Patients can take Chemotherapy drugs alone or together to treat a variety of cancers.
Although chemotherapy is an effective way to treat many cancers, chemotherapy also carries the risk of side effects. Some side effects of chemotherapy are mild and can be treated, while others can cause serious complications.
How chemotherapy works against cancer
Chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide rapidly. Chemotherapy is used in:
- Cancer treatment
- Chemotherapy can be used to treat cancer or reduce the chance of it returning, stopping its growth or slowing down.
- Relieves cancer symptoms
- Chemotherapy can be used to reduce tumors that cause pain and other problems.
Who’s receiving chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is used to treat many cancers. Also for some people, chemotherapy may be the only treatment they encounter. But most of the time, he will have chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. The types of treatment you need depend on the type of cancer you are experiencing, whether it has spread and where, and if you have other health problems.
How chemotherapy is used with other cancer treatments
When used with other treatments, chemotherapy can:
- Minimize the tumor before surgery or radiation therapy. And this is called new chemotherapy.
- Destruction of cancer cells that may remain after surgery or radiation therapy. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
- Help other treatments work better.
- Kill cancer cells that have returned or spread to other parts of the body.
Chemotherapy can cause side effects.
Chemotherapy not only kills fast-growing cancer cells but also kills or slows down the growth of healthy cells that grow and divide rapidly. Examples include cells that line the mouth and gut and those that cause hair growth. Damage to healthy cells can cause side effects, such as mouth ulcers, nausea, and hair loss. But side effects often improve or go away after chemotherapy is completed. Fatigue is the most common side effect.
Cost of chemotherapy
The cost of chemotherapy depends on:
- Types and doses of chemotherapy used
- Number of chemotherapy sessions to be undertaken
- Where the patient will receive chemotherapy whether at home, in a clinic, office or while in hospital
- The country in which he lives
How chemotherapy is given
Chemotherapy can be given in several ways. Some common methods include:
Chemotherapy comes in the form of pills, capsules or liquids that are swallowed
2. Vein (IV)
Chemotherapy goes straight into the vein.
Chemotherapy is given by injection into a muscle in the arm, thigh, hip or subcutaneous directly into the fatty part of the arm, leg or abdomen.
4. Inside the Vacuum
Chemotherapy is injected into the vacuum between the layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord.
5. Inside the Peritoneum (IP)
Chemotherapy is transmitted directly to the peritoneal cavity, the area in the body that contains organs such as the intestines, stomach and liver.
6. Inside the Arteries (IA)
Chemotherapy is injected directly into the artery that leads to cancer
Chemotherapy comes in a cream that is used on the skin
The catheter is a thin, soft tube. The doctor or nurse places one end of the catheter in a large vein, often in the chest area. The other end of the catheter stays outside the body. Most catheters remain in place until they have finished chemotherapy. Catheters can also be used to administer other medications and draw blood.
The port is a small round disc that is placed under the skin through simple surgery. The surgeon puts it in place before the patient’s treatment cycle begins, and stays there until it is finished. Also the catheter connects the port to large veins, often in the chest. The nurse can insert a needle into your port to give chemotherapy or blood draw. This needle can be left in place for chemotherapy, which is given for more than a day.
Pumps are often connected to catheters or ports. Thus they control the amount and speed of the transfer of chemotherapy to the catheter or port, allowing the patient to have chemotherapy outside the hospital. Pumps can be internal or external. External pumps remain outside the body. Internal pumps are placed under the skin during surgery.
How does your doctor decide which chemotherapy medications are appropriate
There are many different chemotherapy drugs. Which one sits in the treatment plan mostly depends on:
- Type of cancer and progress
- The patient has undergone chemotherapy before
- Other health problems, such as diabetes or heart disease
Where to receive chemotherapy
Specialists can give Chemotherapy while in hospital, at home, or as an outpatient at the doctor’s clinic, clinic or hospital. The outpatient clinic means that the patient does not stay overnight. No matter where he goes for chemotherapy, the doctor will monitor the side effects and help manage them.
How often do you have to undergo chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy schedules vary greatly. The number of times and duration of chemotherapy depends on:
- Type of cancer and progress
- Whether chemotherapy is used to treat cancer, control its growth or relieve symptoms
- Type of chemotherapy that the patient receives
- Body response to chemotherapy
The patient may receive chemotherapy in cycles. The cycle is a period of chemotherapy followed by a period of rest. For example, he may receive chemotherapy every day for one week followed by 3 weeks without chemotherapy. These four weeks form a single cycle. The rest period gives the body a chance to recover and build new healthy cells.
Absence from chemotherapy
It’s best not to skip chemotherapy. However, sometimes your doctor may change your schedule of chemotherapy if you have some side effects.
How chemotherapy affects the patient
Chemotherapy affects people in different ways. It depends on:
- Type of chemotherapy that the patient receives
- The dose of chemotherapy he receives
- The type of cancer he suffers from
- Progress of cancer
- Patient’s health before treatment
Since everyone is different and people respond to chemotherapy in different ways, the doctor cannot know how the patient will feel during chemotherapy.
How will I know if my chemotherapy is yielding a result?
You will see your doctor more often. During these visits, he will ask you how you feel, and may ask for a physical exam and medical examinations. Tests may include blood tests. Scans may also include MRI, CT, or PET scans.
It is not possible to know if chemotherapy works based on its side effects. Simultaneously some people believe that severe side effects mean that chemotherapy works well, or that there are no side effects that mean that chemotherapy does not work. The truth is that the side effects have nothing to do with how successful chemotherapy is in fighting cancer.
Special nutritional needs
Chemotherapy can damage healthy cells lining the mouth and intestines and cause eating problems. Therefore tell your doctor or nurse if you have difficulty eating while receiving chemotherapy. You may also find it helpful to talk to a dietitian.
Working during chemotherapy
Many people can work during chemotherapy, as long as they match their work schedule with how they feel. Whether or not the work can be worked may depend on the type of work. He or she may want to know if he or she can work part-time or at home on days when he or she does not feel well.
Chemotherapy is a common method to kill cancer cells in cancer patients.
There are a variety of conditions in which chemotherapy can be a treatment for people with cancer:
- For cancer treatment without other treatments: Doctors can use chemotherapy as a primary or single treatment for cancer.
- After other treatments, to kill hidden cancer cells. Specialists often recommend using chemotherapy after other treatments, such as surgery, to kill any cancer cells that may remain in the body. Doctors call this adjuvant therapy.
- To prepare the patient for other treatments: Chemotherapy can be used to reduce the tumor so that other treatments, such as radiation and surgery, are possible. Doctors call this new adjuvant therapy.
- To relieve signs and symptoms: Chemotherapy may help relieve the signs and symptoms of cancer by killing some cancer cells. Doctors call this palliative chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy for conditions other than cancer
Some chemotherapy drugs have proven to be helpful in treating other conditions, such as:
- Bone marrow diseases: Diseases affecting the bone marrow and blood cells can be treated by bone marrow transplantation, also known as stem cell transplantation. Chemotherapy is often good to prepare for a bone marrow transplant.
- Immune system disorders: Low doses of chemotherapy drugs can help control the over-immune system in certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Preparing for chemotherapy
How to prepare for chemotherapy depends on the medications the patient will receive and how they will be given. Your doctor will give specific instructions to prepare for your chemotherapy. Therefore he may need:
Specialist will insert a surgical device before chemotherapy in a vein. So if he or she will receive intravenous chemotherapy, your doctor may recommend a device, such as a catheter, outlet or pump. Doctors implant the catheter or any other device surgically in a large vein, usually in the chest, which enables chemotherapy drugs to administer through the device.
Undergo tests and procedures to make sure that the body is ready for chemotherapy. Blood tests to check kidney and liver function and heart tests to check heart health can determine whether your body is ready to start chemotherapy. If there is a problem, your doctor may delay treatment or identify a different treatment drug and a safer dose.
Do you need to see dentist :
It is better to see your dentist. Your doctor may recommend that your dentist check your teeth for signs of infection. Because the treatment of existing infections may reduce the risk of complications during chemotherapy, as some chemotherapy may reduce the body’s ability to fight infection.
Plan for the future for side effects. You should ask about the side effects that you may experience during and after chemotherapy and make appropriate arrangements. For example, if chemotherapy will lead to infertility, the patient may want to consider other options for preserving sperm or eggs for future use. If chemotherapy will cause hair loss, the patient will consider planning a headdress.
Most chemotherapy treatments are on an outpatient basis, which means that most people are able to continue working and carrying out their normal activities during chemotherapy. Your doctor can generally tell you how chemotherapy affects your normal activities, but it’s hard to predict exactly what they’ll feel.