How Chemotherapy Combats Cancer
Chemotherapy functions by halting or slowing down the proliferation of rapidly dividing cancer cells. It serves two primary purposes:
- Treating Cancer: Chemotherapy is employed to either cure cancer, reduce the likelihood of its recurrence, or inhibit its growth.
- Alleviating Cancer Symptoms: Chemotherapy is also used to shrink tumours that cause pain and other complications.
Cancer Types Treated with Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is utilized to treat a wide range of cancer types. While some individuals may receive chemotherapy as their sole treatment, it is more common for chemotherapy to be administered alongside other cancer therapies. The selection of treatments depends on the specific type of cancer, its stage and spread, and any accompanying health issues.
- Chemotherapy as sole treatment for cancer: cancer like leukaemia lymphoma and germ cell tumour, chemotherapy alone cane cure cancer.
- Integration of chemotherapy with other cancer therapies.
Integration of Chemotherapy with Other Cancer Therapies
When combined with other treatment, chemotherapy can:
- Reduce tumour size prior to surgery or radiation therapy (known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy).
- Eliminate residual cancer cells following surgery or radiation therapy (referred to as adjuvant chemotherapy).
- Enhance the effectiveness of other treatment modalities.
- Target cancer cells that have metastasized or recurred in different parts of the body.
Chemotherapy and Its Side Effects
While chemotherapy is effective at targeting fast-growing cancer cells, it can also impact healthy cells that divide rapidly, such as those lining the mouth and intestines or contributing to hair growth. This can result in common side effects like Nausea, Hair Loss, Mouth Sores. Each individual chemotherapy agents’ can have their unique side-effects as well. Typically, these side effects improve or disappear after the completion of chemotherapy. The most common side effect is fatigue, characterized by feeling exceptionally tired. To manage fatigue, you can:
- Arrange for transportation to and from chemotherapy sessions.
- Allocate time for rest on the day of treatment and the subsequent day.
- Seek assistance with meal preparation and childcare on the day of treatment and at least one day afterward.
Numerous strategies are available to help manage chemotherapy-related side effects. You can connect with our medical team to understand the same.
Understanding the Cost of Chemotherapy
The cost of chemotherapy hinges on factors such as the types and dosages of chemotherapy drugs used, the duration and frequency of treatment, the setting (home, clinic, or hospital), and geographical location. It is advisable to discuss payment options and coverage with your health insurance provider, as most insurance plans cover chemotherapy.
What to Expect During Chemotherapy
- Administration Methods: Chemotherapy may be administered
- orally (in pill, capsule, or liquid form),
- intravenously (directly into a vein),
- through injections,
- intrathecally (into the space around the brain and spinal cord),
- intraperitoneally (directly into the abdominal cavity),
- intra-arterially (injected into the artery supplying the cancer),
- or topically (applied as a skin cream).
Catheters and Ports
Catheters and chemo ports are sometimes used to facilitate chemotherapy delivery. Catheters are thin tubes placed in a large vein, while ports are small discs implanted under the skin during minor surgery. Both methods enable the administration of chemotherapy and blood draws.
These are better ways of delivering chemotherapy.
- Pumps: Pumps, whether internal or external, are often paired with catheters or ports to regulate the rate and quantity of chemotherapy administered. These are typically used when chemotherapy admin duration. Is longer than 6-8 hrs.
- Chemotherapy Drug Selection
- The choice of chemotherapy drugs in your treatment plan is influenced by factors such as the cancer type, its stage, your previous chemotherapy history, and your overall health, including any preexisting conditions like diabetes or heart disease.
Each cancer type will have unique chemotherapy regimen. These are pre-decided based on extensive research in past.
Chemotherapy can be administered during a hospital stay, No, or as an outpatient at a medical facility. Regardless of the setting, healthcare providers will closely monitor for side effects and offer guidance on their management.
Chemotherapy schedules can vary widely, determined by factors like cancer type, treatment goals (cure, control, symptom relief), specific chemotherapy drugs, individual responses, and the need for rest periods. Cycles of treatment followed by rest intervals are common, allowing the body to recover and generate healthy cells.
Missing a Chemotherapy Treatment
Skipping a chemotherapy session is generally discouraged. However, adjustments to the treatment schedule may be necessary if certain side effects occur. In such cases, healthcare professionals will provide guidance on when to resume treatment.
How Chemotherapy May Impact You
The effects of chemotherapy vary from person to person and depend on factors like the chemotherapy type, dose, cancer type, stage, overall health, and individual responses. Your medical team cannot predict precisely how you will feel during chemotherapy.
How your body reacts to chemotherapy is also critical factor.
Assessing the Effectiveness of Chemotherapy
Doctors regularly evaluate chemotherapy’s effectiveness through physical examinations, medical tests, and scans like MRI, CT, or PET scans. It is important to note that side effects do not correlate with the efficacy of chemotherapy in combating cancer.
Special Dietary Considerations During Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy can harm the healthy cells lining the mouth and intestines, potentially leading to eating difficulties. If you encounter such issues, inform your healthcare team. Consulting with a dietitian can also be beneficial. In general, you can eat lot of things during chemotherapy as per your diet plan.
Remember, there are lot of myths about diet & cancer.
Working During Chemotherapy
Many individuals can continue working during chemotherapy by adjusting their schedules to their well-being. The ability to work may vary depending on your job. Employers are often legally obligated to accommodate employees undergoing cancer treatment, so discussing potential adjustments with your employer is recommended. You can learn more about relevant laws by speaking with a social worker.
Immune cells & as a result, they are not destroyed & proliferate.