What is Chemotherapy Treatment?
What is chemotherapy treatment is the first question that comes to the minds of the patients when they are diagnosed with cancer and recommended chemotherapy treatment by their oncologists. They also want to know about the side effects of this treatment. Before starting with that you might also be interested in some other facts like: who discovered chemotherapy, and how did this revolution in the field of medicine change the way cancer was treated. Chemotherapy treatment has managed to cure many patients and has given them the opportunity to lead better lives. So, let’s look at some questions relating to chemotherapy and its role in curing the malignant disease called cancer.
When was Chemotherapy Invented?
In the early 20th century that chemotherapy drugs were first used. The use of mustard gas was further studied and given the name of nitrogen mustards that were used as chemical warfare agents or biological weapons in World War I and II. This gas suppresses the blood production in the body. The researchers argued that the agents used in this particular gas could treat cancer because they checks the rapid growth of white blood cells and therefore should have the same effect on cancer cells. In the year 1942 the drug was given to those with advanced lymphomas intravenously. Since then, several other drugs have been discovered after that and there are many types of chemotherapy drugs that are available to treat various types of cancers. Over the years, researchers have took pains to find out the drugs that are used in different types of treatments like acute myeloid chemotherapy, medulloblastoma chemotherapy and so on.
What does Chemotherapy mean and what does Chemotherapy Do?
In simple terms, chemotherapy is one of the treatment methods used to treat cancer. In this form of treatment, chemical agents or drugs are administered to the patients. Now, what is chemotherapy treatment, what does it do and how does it work exactly? Chemotherapy works by either slowing down the growth of cancer cells that rapidly grow and multiply into many or it completely stops the growth of the harmful cancer cells.
What is Chemotherapy Treatment and how is it given?
As mentioned earlier, chemotherapy is a type of treatment wherein certain chemotherapy drugs are used to attack cancer cells, affecting its growth and preventing it from metastasizing. Chemotherapy treatment only begins after the overall health check-up of the patient and after several tests to ensure that the body can tolerate the treatment. In chemotherapy treatments, chemotherapy drugs can be used as single agents or in combination with other chemotherapy drugs could be used. Single agent chemotherapy drugs refer to a single drug that is used in the treatment and combination chemotherapy drugs means that more than one chemotherapy drug is used to treat the cancer.
Different chemotherapy drugs and different combinations are used to treat different types of cancer. The combination of drugs used depends on various factors and the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs depends on the combination used. Although there are certain standard combinations of chemotherapy drugs that are used to treat all patients with a similar kind of cancer, it is not necessary that it will work on all of them and therefore the combinations could be changed for different patients. Chemotherapy treatment is given in different cycles and there is rest period of a few days between each cycle. Chemotherapy treatment causes certain side effects to the body which are discussed in the latter part of this article. Depending on the severity of the side effects and the way the body responds to chemotherapy drugs, the doctor may change the duration of the chemotherapy cycle or the regimen of the treatment.
Apart from using drugs as single agents, or in combinations, different types of chemotherapy treatments have been found to effective by the researchers like local chemotherapy that do not require intravenous administration of the drugs. Other ways of giving this treatment include aggressive chemotherapy, targeted chemotherapy and so on. Your oncologist will decide the treatment that will suit you.
What is the Difference between Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy?
There are two major differences between chemotherapy and radiation therapy: the first is that the way they are administered varies, and the second difference is that the side effects of each treatment method is not the same. In radiotherapy, rays are used to treat the cancer affected area instead of using chemical agents or drugs as used in the case of chemotherapy. And as only a certain area is exposed to radiotherapy, the side effects also are limited to that particular area. However, in chemotherapy, the drugs usually tend to affect not just the cancerous cells but also the normal cells causing various side effects to the body.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
As mentioned earlier, chemotherapy has several side effects. Although, the side effects may vary from one patient to another, some of the common side effects that have been noticed in patients include nausea and vomiting, fatigue, hair loss, low blood cells count, anemia, infertility, numbness in toes and fingers etc. Most of these side effects are predictable and manageable. Over the years, various medicines have been invented to cope with these side effects. Although the count of the blood cells becomes low during the treatment, the doctors usually monitor the count of these cells.
Before you start with the cancer treatment, make sure you know what is chemotherapy treatment, radiotherapy and any other type of treatment that you might have to undergo. Get to know their side effects, the pros and cons of the treatment, the precautions to be taken during the treatment and so on. If you have any doubts, get them clarified from your health care provider, as it will help you going through the treatment and coping with the various side effects.