Chemotherapy is a chemical drug therapy which is used to kill cancer cells. It’s also called as Chemo. Surgery and radiation therapies can remove, kill, or damage cancer cells from a specific area, whereas chemo can work throughout the body. It targets and kills the cells which grow and divide quickly as cancer cells do. While targeting the cancer cells chemo also affects some fast-growing healthy cells, like those of the skin, hair, intestines, and bone marrow.
chemotherapy is often combined with other therapies such as surgery, radiation, or hormone therapy. The combination is depending on:
If the doctor has recommended chemotherapy to treat your cancer, it is important to understand the goal of chemotherapy before making a treatment decision.
1. Cure - In some cases, the treatment can destroy the cancer cells that your doctor can not detect them in your body. Most of the doctor doesn’t use the word Cure except as a possibility or intention. The best outcome is that cancer doesn't grow back again but that doesn't always happen.
2. Control - If the cure is not possible then the goal may be to control cancer. Chemotherapy is used to shrink the tumor and stop it from growing and spreading. In many cases, cancer doesn’t completely go away. but with the treatment, we can control and manage it like a chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease. In other cases, cancer may have seen gone but its recurrence. Then chemo can be given again.
3. Symptoms - When the cancer is at its advanced stage and has spread to the other parts of the body, and it is not in control in such situation chemo may be used to help shrink a tumor that’s causing pain or pressure. Chemo can also be used to ease symptoms caused by cancer.
Any treatment that’s used to reduce symptoms or improve comfort is called palliative care. When chemo is given to ease the symptoms, this is called palliative chemotherapy or palliation.
In some cases, doses of chemo and the schedule is clear, in other cases less may be known about the single best way to treat people with certain types and stages of cancer. In such cases, the doctor might choose a different drug combination with a different schedule.
Treatment with drugs is called standard chemotherapy, traditional chemotherapy, or cytotoxic chemotherapy. Apart from the above therapies, many other types of chemo treatments exist, such as targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and hormone therapy.
Chemotherapy treats many types of cancer and like other treatment, it causes side effects. The side effect of chemotherapy is different for every person. It depends on the type of cancer, its location, drugs, dose, and your general health. Cells in the following areas can be adverse effects:
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The doctor will help you to manage the side effects with the help of medications, lifestyle changes and more. Most of the pain related chemotherapy goes away with the treatment. Nerve damaged some time gets worse with each dose, when this happens the drug causing nerve-damaged have to be stopped. Most of the side effect of chemotherapy will subside once the treatment is over. The risk of long-lasting effects that develop even after the treatment is over depends on the type of chemotherapy used.
Chemotherapy is a serious treatment; it is important to schedule or plan the treatment. Your doctor will anticipate the problem associated with treatment. Before beginning the treatment, you will undergo the series of test to determine whether you are healthy enough for chemo. The test includes the examination of your blood, heart, and liver.
Your doctor may also recommend you to visit the dentist before beginning with the treatment. As chemo affects the ability of your body to heal, any infection in your gums or teeth could spread all over your body.
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