Cancer chemotherapy treatment involves the use of medicines to treat cancer. The medicines used include chemicals that kill the cancer cells. Often this treatment is also called “chemo”. Other treatment of cancer includes surgery and radiation. These treatments help in removing or destroying the cancer cells in a particular area. In comparison to them chemotherapy helps in removing and destroying the cancer cells present in the whole body. Chemotherapy also helps in destroying the cancer cells that have spread in different parts of the body other than the actual location of the original tumor.
The patients are generally given the cancer chemotherapy treatment in cycles. There is a treatment period which is. Followed by a rest period for recovery. After the rest period or the recovery time, there is another treatment. It is in this pattern that the chemotherapy treatment is given to the patient. The patient generally takes the chemotherapy in a doctor’s clinic, a hospital or even at home. A patient may require staying at the hospital depending upon the health condition of the patient and the type of drugs that are given to the patient.
Generally the cancer chemotherapy treatment is carried out either through a port or intravenously. The time required for the treatment in a clinic or hospital is about two hours. Some of the new drugs that are being used for this treatment are in the form of pills. Generally the treatment is provided to the patients once in every 2-3 weeks. This gives the patient enough time to recover from the treatment. Besides, some anti-sickness medicines are also given to reduce the side effects of the treatment.
Benefits of Cancer Chemotherapy Treatment
Cancer chemotherapy treatment is mainly used prior to surgery to shrink the tumor. This makes it easy for the doctors to remove the tumor. Chemotherapy is also used after surgery as a preventive measure. It helps to kill the cancer cells that are minute and cannot be detected or removed by surgery. Sometimes due to the health condition of the patient it is not possible for the doctor to totally remove the cancer. In these cases chemotherapy helps in reducing the cancer and hence also reduces the symptoms. Chemotherapy when combined with radiation helps in faster eradication of the cancer cells.
Drugs used for Cancer Chemotherapy Treatment
There are different types of drugs used in cancer chemotherapy treatment. These cancer chemotherapy drugs are used in different combination. However, even a single drug can be used in chemotherapy treatment. It has been observed that using different combination drugs help in better treatment. The different drugs provide different actions on the cancer cells and when combined together helps to kill the cancer cells faster. The combination of different drugs also prevents the cancers to become resistant to any particular drug.
The doctor decides as to which cancer chemotherapy treatment drug is best for the patient and the combination of drugs to be used in the treatment. The doctor also decides the dose of the drugs and how often the drug should be given to the patient and also the way in which the drugs should be administered. He also decides how long the treatment should be carried on for. However, all these decisions are made by the doctor depending on the location and the type of cancer. Besides, the decisions also depend on the size of the cancer and its effect on the patient’s normal life. Generally, the drugs for cancer chemotherapy treatment are intravenously or intramuscularly. The IV drugs are pushed into the vein and the IM drugs are injected into the muscles. Some of the drugs can also be taken orally. Patients requiring many doses of the IV drugs may receive these drugs through a catheter.
The cancer chemotherapy treatment drugs are mainly used for stopping the reproduction and division of the cancer cells. The cancer cells when affected by chemotherapy drugs cannot survive. The different chemotherapy drugs have a unique method of stopping the reproduction of cancer cells and killing the cancer drugs. The different drugs when used in combination can kill the cancer cells in different ways. There are more than 200 chemotherapy drugs which can be used in about 50 combination’s.
Side Effects of Cancer Chemotherapy Treatment
There are different side effects of chemotherapy treatment and they. depend mainly on the type of drugs and the doses. The drugs that are used for chemotherapy treatment also affect the blood cells that help in fighting infection, carry oxygenated blood to different parts of the body and helps in clotting of blood. When these blood cells are affected by the anticancer drugs, patients develop infections, bleed or bruise easily and have low energy level. The anti cancer drugs also affect the cells in the digestive tract. This results in side effects like loss of appetite, vomiting, mouth sores, nausea. However, doctors prescribe some medicines to the patients to get rid of these side effects.
Another side effect that is caused by cancer chemotherapy treatment is rapid hairfall and thinning of hair. This side effect causes grave concern among patients undergoing this treatment. Some of the chemotherapy drugs can also result in fertility loss in patients taking this treatment. Fertility loss can either be permanent or temporary. This however depends on the age of the patient and the drugs that are used. Women undergoing this treatment may have vaginal dryness and hot flushes.
If high dosage of drugs is used in cancer chemotherapy treatment, a patient may have to undergo bone marrow transplants. High dose of drugs are used for cancers that are acute and which spread rapidly. High dose of these drugs causes damage to the bone marrow. In these cases bone marrow transplantation is advised by the doctor. The bone marrow is generally replaced by the stem cells. These cells are obtained either from the patient itself or from a matching donor. In many cases the blood cells when destroyed by the treatment is replaced by the support of the peripheral stem cells or bone marrow transplantation.