What is Chemotherapy? How does it work?
Chemotherapy is a kind of treatment done for cancer that includes one or more anti-cancer medication as a part of the standard therapy routine. Chemotherapy may be given with curative intent, or it may aim to prolong life or to reduce the symptoms of cancer or such chronic diseases.
Also known as medical oncology, this therapy is given to reduce the effects of cancer or such chronic diseases. It is a kind of radiation therapy (might include surgery if advised by the doctor) to eliminate or damage the cancer cells of a particular area, however, chemo can work or is done all over the body. This is done to kill the cancer cells that might have spread to other parts of the body, apart from the primary tumor. However, before starting any treatment it is very important to understand the uses or goals of the same.
Basically, there are three major goals for or uses of chemotherapy (or chemo):
Chemo is used to cure cancer by destroying the affected cells in the early stages. Doctors describe this as treatment with curative intent. This means cancer can be cured most probably.
If the cure is not a possibility may be in advance stages, the goal of a doctor or the treatment shits to control the spread of the disease. Chemotherapy is also used to shrink or reduce tumors and stop it from further growing.
This may help the person suffering from cancer to feel better or live longer. In several cases, cancer doesn’t entirely go away, however, is controlled and managed by regular chemotherapy medicines, much likely in cases of heart disease, diabetes and so on. In further cases, cancer might seem to disappear for a while, however, there are chances of it to come back. In this case, chemo is to be given again.
Chemotherapy can also help in easing the symptoms triggered by the disease. This is known as palliation or palliative chemotherapy. The minute the disease is at an advanced stage or not under control, the aim of the treatment shifts to minimize the side effects and improve the quality of life of the patient as much as possible (radiation therapy, surgery or both).
Chemo can also be used to reduce the tumor before surgery through radiation therapy; the treatment is termed as neoadjuvant therapy.
There are more than 100 chemotherapy drugs suggested treating cancer – either to be taken alone or in combination with additional drugs or treatments as advised by the doctor. These are very heavy prescription drugs in specific chemical composition and are to be taken only as suggested by your doctor in doses prescribed. The overall dose may differ as per a patient’s body weight, allergy (if any), condition or stage of the disease and several aligned factors.
Cancer treatment is not something to be scared of. It is always suggested that in case anyone is diagnosed with cancer, immediate medical consultation and treatment is to be taken in order to treat and destroyed the cancer cells in the initial stages. Once it is spread, it gets very difficult to control the side effects of this chronic disease. However, with proper treatment, willpower, and therapy these diseases can be taken under control.