Gastric Cancer Chemotherapy
Gastric cancer is the second most common cancer among cancer patients in the world. It is also called as stomach cancer. Chemotherapy for stomach cancer or gastric cancer is a common treatment used to cure the disease. Sometimes, it is also combined with surgery or radiation for better results. Gastric cancer chemotherapy involves the use of anti-cancer drugs to kill the cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs enter the bloodstream and reacts with the cells present all over the body. This treatment is therefore called systematic therapy.
Although gastric cancer is quite common, there has been a decline in the number of patients suffering from this kind of cancer nowadays than in the past. The use of refrigeration to preserve food, less consumption of salt, increased intake of fresh fruits and vegetables had led to less contamination of food. Salted food products, on the other hand, which were used as food preservatives, in the past, are found to cause damage to the gastric mucosa. This leads to inflammation and an increase in cell proliferation and DNA synthesis. Apart from this, maintenance of cleanliness and hygiene along with the use of antibiotics has attributed towards the decrease in the gastric cancer.
But gastric cancer still remains the second most common cause of deaths from cancer-related disease in the world. It becomes difficult to cure the disease as most patients are diagnosed with it at an advanced stage. Even patients who are detected with the disease in the best conditions and are cured completely through surgical resection most often die because of its reccurrence.
The drugs for the treatment for stomach cancer are often infused into the blood vessels. Thesedrugs can be administered orally as well. Patients can receive the treatment at the hospital, in a clinic, at the doctor’s office or even at home. Some patients are asked to stay in the hospital during the treatment if the case needs to be monitored closely or the cancer is detected at a later stage.
In most cases, doctors use chemotherapy combination that involves the use of two or more drugs for the treatment. These drugs used and its combination depend on the purpose of the treatment and the stage of cancer. Patients should receive complete information of the drugs that would be administered in writing by the doctor or chemotherapy nurse.
The common drugs used under chemotherapy, which could be used before or after surgery for stomach cancer are ECF and ECX. The drugs, cisplatin, epirubicin and fluorouracil fall under ECF. The drugs are injected through a pump that is passed into the main blood vessel located in your neck. Generally, patients have to undergo a treatment of 4 to 6 months depending upon how the body responds to the treatment.
ECX on the other hand consists of the drugs, cisplatin, epirubicin and capecitabine. Cisplatin and epirubicin are induced into the veins whereas capecitabine is taken as a tablet.
Side effects of the treatment:
Side effects of stomach cancer chemotherapy completely depend on the drugs that have been used and its dosage. Chemotherapy not only destroys the cancer cells but also other fast growing healthy cells, which leads to various side effects.
A few common side effects experienced by patients during stomach cancer chemotherapy are hair loss, fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, mouth sores. In some cases, it can also lead to skin rash, loss of balance, joint pain, hearing problems and even swollen legs and feet. The blood cells in the body are affected making a person more prone to infections. Patients also bleed and bruise easily while the treatment is on.
Most of the side effects disappear once the treatment is over. But patients need to be very careful and keep the doctors informed even if they experience some unusual late effects of chemotherapy. Side effects if not treated promptly could prove fatal.