What is Chemotherapy

July 25, 2022

What is Chemotherapy
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Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses medicines or drugs to destroy the cancer cells in our body. Since cancer cells grow and divide more quickly than other cells, it is typically used to treat cancer

In addition to other treatments, including surgery, radiation, or hormone therapy, chemotherapy is frequently employed. Combination therapy is used depending on:

  • Your overall health
  • The stage and the type of cancer you have
  • The location of cancer cells
  • Previous treatments you’ve had
  • Your personal treatment preferences

It is regarded as a combination therapy, which implies that it has an impact on the entire body. Cancer cells can be effectively attacked by chemotherapy, but some significant consequences can negatively affect your life. When considering if chemotherapy is best for you, you should compare these side effects to the risk of remaining untreated.

Why is Chemotherapy used?

Chemotherapy is primarily used for the following purposes:

  • Decrease the overall amount of cancer cells in your body
  • Minimise the tumour size in your body
  • Decrease the severity of your present symptoms

Your oncologist may advise chemotherapy if you’ve had surgery to remove a cancerous tumour, such as a lumpectomy for breast cancer, to ensure that any remaining cancer cells are also eliminated. Additionally, chemotherapy is used to get you ready for additional treatments. It might be used to make a tumour smaller so that it can be surgically removed or to get you prepared for radiation treatment.

Cancer, bone marrow disorders, and immune system issues can all be treated with chemotherapy. It can also prepare patients with bone marrow diseases for a bone marrow stem cell treatment. Disorders like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, in which the body’s immune system destroys healthy cells, can benefit from doses significantly lower than those used to treat cancer.

Side effects of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is intended to kill rapidly dividing cells. Other cells in your body also divide quickly, although cancer cells are the kind that does.

Chemotherapy might harm the cells in the tissues listed below:

  • Blood
  • Hair
  • Skin
  • The lining of your intestinal tract

Due to this, the side effects of chemotherapy are:

  • Easy bruising
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Mouth sores
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Pain from nerve damage
  • Infections
  • Anaemia
  • Constipation
  • Neuropathy
  • Lymphedema
  • Memory problems
  • Concentration problems
  • Skin changes
  • Nail changes
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual changes
  • Fertility changes

Long-term Effects of Chemotherapy

When chemotherapy is finished, the majority of its side effects disappear. But depending on the kind of chemotherapy used, there is also a chance of long-term consequences that could manifest years after treatment.

These outcomes could result in harm to the:

  • Heart
  • Kidneys
  • Lungs
  • Nerves
  • Reproductive organs

Additionally, chemotherapy increases the risk of getting cancer again. Speak with your doctor about the potential hazards and any symptoms you should be on the lookout for before starting treatment.

How to Be Prepared for Chemotherapy

Planning is essential before starting treatment because chemotherapy is a severe course of action for a serious illness. You can anticipate possible treatment-related issues with the assistance of your doctor and hospital personnel. You’ll go through several tests to see if you’re fit enough for chemotherapy before you start treatment. This will involve a cardiac check and blood tests to evaluate your liver’s condition.

The results of these tests can also assist your doctor in choosing the kind of chemotherapy to employ for your treatment. Additionally, before starting therapy, your doctor could advise scheduling an appointment with the dentist. Chemotherapy interferes with your body’s natural ability to heal, so any gum or tooth infection risks spreading to the rest of your body.

If you receive chemotherapy through an intravenous (IV) line, your doctor may insert a port. A port is an implanted device that is usually located in the chest, close to the shoulder. It is less painful and makes it easier to access your veins. The IV will be put into your port during each treatment.

How is chemotherapy performed?

Together, you and your doctor may choose the best course of therapy for you by considering all relevant factors.

Chemotherapy is typically given orally, intravenously, or intramuscularly. Besides these two types, there are many more ways to administer chemotherapy.

Options for administering chemotherapy include the following:

  • Depending on where the tumour is, chemotherapy can be administered straight into the tumour. Your doctor may implant slow-dissolving discs that gradually release drugs if you have surgery to remove the tumour.
  • Some forms of skin cancer can be treated with chemotherapy creams.
  • Chemotherapy can be applied locally to a specific bodily site, such as the bladder through the urethra, abdomen, chest, or central nervous system.
  • Some chemotherapy treatments can be given orally as pills.
  • One-shot liquid chemotherapy treatments are also an option, as is installing a port that requires a needle for each treatment.

Also Read: Skin & Skin Cancer: Insights You Need To Know

Your preferred delivery method will determine where you receive treatment. You could treat yourself at home, for instance, by using lotions or medications. Hospitals or cancer treatment facilities are typically where other treatments are carried out.

You will have a personal chemotherapy schedule, including how frequently you receive treatment. If your body doesn’t respond well to the treatment, it can be altered. It can also be raised or decreased depending on how the cancer cells respond.

How to Prepare for Chemotherapy

  • Make yourself free from your professional front – Most people can continue to work while receiving chemotherapy. Still, you might wish to be given a lesser workload until you know what side effects you might be having.
  • Prepare your house – Wash the laundry, buy food, and complete other duties you might not be able to complete after your first appointment.
  • Arrange for backup if it might be needed – Getting a friend or family member to assist with housework, pet care, or child-rearing can be very helpful.
  • Anticipate side effects – Consult your doctor to learn about potential side effects and how to prepare. If you wish to have a child but fear that a side effect might be sterility, you might choose to freeze or keep sperm, eggs, or fertilized embryos. In the event that hair loss is anticipated, you might choose to buy headwear or wigs.

People also ask

1. What is chemotherapy and how is it done?

Chemotherapy is an extreme form of chemical medicinal treatment designed to kill the body’s rapidly proliferating cells. Since cancer cells grow and divide more quickly than other cells, it is typically used to treat cancer.

Together, you and your doctor may choose the best course of therapy for you by considering all relevant factors.

Typically, chemotherapy is administered orally, intravenously, or via an injection. Chemotherapy can be given in various ways in addition to these two kinds.

2. At what stage of cancer is chemotherapy used?

Chemotherapy is typically an option for all stages of the majority of cancer types. Chemotherapy is a treatment method or drug cocktail used to cure or eradicate cancer cells. Multiple therapies may be used in the treatment of cancer (surgery, radiation, chemo, etc.). The following details the typical applications of chemotherapeutic treatment:

  • Adjuvant therapy: Following surgery, chemotherapy may be given to lower the chance of cancer recurrence.
  • Neoadjuvant therapy: To reduce the tumour before surgery, chemotherapy may be used. This will increase the success of the procedure.
  • Concurrent therapy: Other therapies could be used to modify chemotherapy (radiation and chemo). It is typically used for cancer kinds that are tenacious or aggressive.
  • Palliative therapy: People with advanced cancer may also utilise this to reduce their symptoms, enhance their quality of life, and prolong their lives.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.



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