Understanding How Chemotherapy Works
Chemotherapy is a form of chemical drug therapy designed to destroy cells that tend to grow rapidly in the body. Often, it is used for treating cancer because of faster growth and division of cancer cells than other body cells. A physician specializing in cancer treatment is called an oncologist. This professional works with cancer patients to create a treatment plan. Chemotherapy is usually used along with other therapies like radiation, hormone therapy or surgery.
Although chemotherapy is an effective method to attack cancer cells, it can cause side effects which can have a serious impact on the patient’s quality of life. It is imperative to weigh such side effects against the risk of not getting chemotherapy as the patient decides if this method is best for him.
Reasons Chemotherapy is an Option
Chemotherapy is mainly used for:
- Decreasing the potential spread of the cancer
- Reducing the number of cancer cells in the body.
- Shrinking tumor size
- Minimizing current symptoms
In case you have gone through surgery to eliminate a cancerous tumor like a breast cancer or lumpectomy, an oncologist is likely to recommend you get chemotherapy to make sure that lingering cancer cells are also killed.
Also, chemotherapy is used for preparing you for other treatments. This method can be used for shrinking a tumor to make it removable surgically or preparing you for radiation therapy. For late-stage cancer patients, chemotherapy can help in relieving their pain.
Apart from treating cancer, chemotherapy can be used for helping disorders in which the healthy cells are attacked by the immune system such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus or preparing those who have bone marrow disorders for a bone marrow stem cell treatment.
Chemotherapy Side Effects
Although cancer cells tend to divide quickly, other body cells also divide quickly. Cells in the blood, intestinal tract lining, skin, or hair can be seriously affected. That is why the side effects of chemotherapy include dry mouth, easy bruising and excessive bleeding, mouth sores, diarrhea, weight loss, a fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, hair loss, memory issues, nail changes, neuropathy, insomnia, etc.
A physician can help in managing such side effects by prescribing medications, suggesting lifestyle changes and more. The majority of chemotherapy side effects will subside once treatment is over. Depending on the kind of chemotherapy used, long-lasting side effects may remain and even develop years following the treatment. Such side effects can include damage to the kidney, heart, reproductive organs, nerves and lungs.
Preparing for Chemotherapy
Because chemotherapy is a serious option to treat a serious disorder, a patient must plan in advance before starting therapy. A physician and hospital staff will help the patient in anticipating the possible issues associated with chemotherapy.
A series of tests will be undergone by the patient intended to help in determining if he is healthy enough for the treatment. The tests will include blood tests and heart exams to determine his liver’s health. Also, such tests can help in guiding the physician in deciding the kind of chemotherapy to use in the treatment.
Additionally, the physician may recommend that the patient visits his dentist before starting treatment. Chemotherapy impacts the ability of the body to heal and any teeth or gums infections could possibly spread throughout the body.
A port may be installed by the physician if the patient is getting chemotherapy through an intravenous or IV line. The port is implanted in the body often in the chest near the patient’s shoulder. The IV is inserted into the port during every treatment.
The treatments’ effectiveness will be monitored by the doctor and cancer treatment team. Monitoring includes imaging techniques and blood tests. The physician can make adjustments to the treatments when necessary.
Sharing with your doctor on the impacts of chemotherapy on you will give you a better treatment experience. You will wish to tell about the treatment-related issues or side effects you are experiencing to they adjust your treatment. And if you need medical transportation for your chemotherapy, contact Wisdom Care Transportation.