Chemotherapy is essentially a rigorous treatment, and can have severe side-effects. However, chemotherapy in early stages of cancer is found to be very effective, which makes enduring the side-effects worth it.
Chemotherapy is a type of treatment that involves the administration of medications to treat cancer or to alleviate cancer-related adverse effects. Normal cells divide and replicate at a far slower rate than cancer cells. The goal of most cancer treatments is to kill these malignant cells. Chemotherapy covers the entire body, unlike Radiation Therapy and Surgery, which target a specific region of the body. However, when cancer cells are killed, healthy cells are frequently damaged as well. This is why chemotherapy sessions are spaced out, with a 2 to 4 week interval between each one. This breach enables for the replacement of injured healthy cells.
USE OF CHEMOTHERAPY IN CANCER TREATMENT
- Chemotherapy is a treatment that can be used to kill cancer cells. Cancer cells can be wiped out of the body with regular treatments. This does not rule out the possibility of a cancer recurrence.
- Chemotherapy is occasionally used to halt the growth of a tumour or to restrict the spread of cancer. Chemotherapy is unlikely to be the only treatment option in such circumstances.
- It may be given in conjunction with radiotherapy or prior to surgical removal of the tumour.
- Chemotherapy is also used in some circumstances to prevent cancer from returning after surgery or radiation by eliminating the cancer cells that remain microscopic.
- Chemotherapy is given to patients who are unable to be treated in order to extend their lives and improve their symptoms. Palliative chemotherapy is the term for this type of treatment.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE-EFFECTS OF CHEMOTHERAPY?
• Nausea and vomiting are the most typical side effects, and the doctor will prescribe medication to alleviate them.
• Hair Loss: Hair thinning is another common side effect. Hair loss may be reduced by wearing a scarf to keep the scalp cool during the treatment. However, most patients observe that their hair comes back when the therapy is finished.
• Dry Skin & Flaky Nails: Some people’s nails become brittle and crumble. Others’ skin becomes dry and sensitive, necessitating the avoidance of noon sun and the application of sunscreen anytime they go outside.
• Fatigue: another typical side effect, the best way to deal with it is to get plenty of rest and avoid doing anything that puts too much load on the body.• Weakened Immune System: Chemotherapy can harm white blood cells, resulting in a weakened immune system, which makes a person more susceptible to infections. Infections can be avoided by maintaining personal hygiene and living in a clean environment.
• Anaemia: Chemotherapy has the potential to harm red blood cells. Anemia can be caused by a lack of RBCs, making the person even more weak and vulnerable. Iron supplementation and a high-iron diet can help avoid anaemia.
• Bleeding issues: Chemotherapy can also cause blood platelet destruction. This can cause the person to bruise more readily and/or have nosebleeds more frequently.
· Loss of appetite: Chemotherapy is known to cause loss of appetite which results in weight loss, that further weakens the person and can even lead to hospitalization. Eating smaller meals several times a day can help prevent this situation.
· Affects foetal development: Some chemotherapy drugs can cause damage to the foetus particularly if given early in pregnancy to women. However, the doctor usually recommends chemotherapy only after 12-14 weeks of pregnancy.
· Cognitive issues: Many people have trouble in paying attention, trouble with short term memory and experience mood swings. While these symptoms go away once the treatment ends, for some it lasts for years to come.
Chemotherapy effectiveness is largely determined on the type of cancer and the stage at which it is administered. It’s advisable to talk to your doctor about why he or she is prescribing this treatment method and what the success rate is. If you need support coping with cancer and treatment side effects, go to a counsellor.
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