Chemotherapy is an insistent form of chemical drug therapy meant to damage rapidly growing cells in the body. It’s normally used to treat cancer, as cancer cells grow and divide quicker than other cells. A doctor who specializes in cancer treatment is called an oncologist. They’ll work with you to know your treatment plan.
Chemotherapy is usually used in addition to other therapies, such as surgery, radiation, or hormone therapy.
This depends upon:
The stage and type of cancer you have
Your overall health
Previous cancer therapy you’ve had
The location of the cancer cells
Your personal treatment preferences
It’s regarded a systemic treatment, which means it affects the whole body.
While chemotherapy has been proven to efficiently attack cancer cells, it can lead to serious side effect that can seriously impact your quality of life. You should weigh these side effects against the risk of not getting treatment when making a decision if chemotherapy is right for you.
Why Chemotherapy is used
Chemotherapy is basically used to:
Reduce the total number of cancer cells in your body
Reduce the probability of cancer spreading
Minimize tumor size
Reduce present symptoms
If you’ve gone through surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, such as a lumpectomy for breast cancer, your oncologist may recommend that you have chemotherapy to ensure that any remaining cancer cells are killed as well.
Chemotherapy is as well used to prepare you for other treatments. It could be used to shrink a tumor so it can be surgically removed or to get you ready for radiation therapy.
In the situation of late-stage cancer, chemotherapy may assist relieve pain.
Besides treatment for cancer, chemotherapy can be used to prepare people with bone marrow diseases for a bone marrow stem cell treatment and it may be used for immune system disorders. Doses much lower than those used to treat cancer can be used to assist problems in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is made to kill cells that divide rapidly. While cancer cells are these types of cells, other cells in your body divide rapidly also. Cells in the following areas can be negatively affected:
Lining of your intestinal tract
As a result of this, the side effects of chemotherapy comprise:
Loss of appetite
Pain from nerve damage
Easy bruising and excessive bleeding
Your doctor can assist you in managing these side effects with medications, lifestyle tips, and more.
Most side effects of chemotherapy reduce when treatment is completed. There’s the risk of long-lasting effects that may develop even years after the treatment, depending on the form of chemotherapy used.
These effects could include damage to the:
There’s as well the possibility of developing a second cancer as a result of chemotherapy. Prior to commencing treatment, talk to your doctor about the likely risks and what symptoms you should be aware of.
How to Prepare for Chemotherapy
As chemotherapy is a serious treatment for a serious condition, it’s necessary to plan ahead of time before starting treatment. Your doctor and hospital staff will help you expect the potential problems related with treatment.
Before you begin treatment, you’ll undergo a series of tests to assist confirm if you’re healthy enough for chemotherapy. This will include examinations of your heart and blood tests to ascertain the health of your liver. These tests can also help information your doctor in deciding which types of chemotherapy to use in your treatment.
Your doctor may also advise that you see your dentist before commencing treatment. As chemotherapy affects your body’s ability to heal, any infection in your gums or teeth could possibly spread throughout your entire body.
Your doctor may as well install a port if you’re getting chemotherapy through an intravenous (IV) line. A port is a device that’s implanted in your body, typically in your chest close to your shoulder. This grants for easier access to your veins and is less painful. At the time every treatment, the IV will be inserted into your port.
Look into these preparation tips for chemotherapy treatment:
Make arrangements for work. Most people can work at some stage in chemotherapy, but you may want to be put on a lighter workload until you are sure of the types of side effects you may be experiencing.
Arrange for any assistance you might need.
Commence treatment or join a support group. Talking to someone outside of your household and circle of friends about what you’re going through can help you keep up with hope. It can as well help reduce any fears you may have about treatment.
How Chemotherapy is carried out
You and your doctor should work together to see to all possibility and the best course of your treatment. Chemotherapy is generally given in tablet form or straight into veins by injection or an IV. In addition to these two forms, chemotherapy may as well be given in several other ways.
Chemotherapy delivery options encompass the following
Chemotherapy can be delivered directly into the tumor, depending on the tumor’s location. If you undergo surgery to get rid of the tumor, your doctor can implant slow-dissolving discs that release medications over time.
Some skin cancers can be treated with chemotherapy creams
Chemotherapy can be delivered to a particular part of the body through localized treatment, such as straight into the abdomen, chest, central nervous system, or into the bladder through the urethra.
Some types of chemotherapy can be taken by mouth through pills
Liquid chemotherapy medicines can be delivered in single shots, or you can have a port installed where a needle is inserted for each treatment. The infusion technique with a port only involves pain at the injection site at some point of the first visit, but the port needle can loosen based on your level of tasks.
Your chemotherapy plan, as in how you receive treatment, will be personalized for you. It can be changed if your body doesn’t handle the treatment well, or it can be increased or reduced based on how well the cancer cells react to treatments.
Your doctor and cancer treatment team will always observe the effectiveness of your treatments. These will include imaging techniques, blood tests and probably more. Your doctor can adjust your treatment plan at any time.
The more you share with your doctor about how chemotherapy is affecting you, the better your treatment scheduled will be. You’ll want to tell them about any side effects or treatment-relate problems you’re having so that they can adjust your treatment if required.