What is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a treatment; especially used for treating and destructing the Cancer cells with the use of chemical cytotoxic and other drugs.

Chemotherapy is a medication or treatment in simple language to treat cancer disease. It involves use of heavy antibiotics and other medications. The treatment is given with a curative intend, especially with the other cancer treatments, which includes radiation therapy, surgery, and/or hyperthermia therapy. The treatment involves major goals accordingly it is carried out:

  • Total remission: it aims to cure and treat the patient completely.
  • Combination therapy: the treatment can be given as a combined therapy along with the other cancer therapies like, radiotherapy or surgery.
  • Delay/Prevent recurrence: it means the treatment delays the reoccurrence of cancer, and hence it stops after the tumor is removed surgically.
  • Slow down cancer progression: the step is applied when the cancer has already exceeded its prior stages, and hence this shows that the treatment can slow down the advancement of the cancer. 
  • To relieve symptoms: in case of patients who are suffering from advance cancer, the treatment helps to relive the symptoms.

The cancer cells do not grow in an orderly pattern, or capacity hence they once formed get replicated which causes a stop or damage to the functioning of that organ. The organ entirely gets disrupted, as cancer cells start occupying more and more space. Chemotherapy involves a strict treatment of drugs, which works in several ways. Chemo drugs interfere with the cancer cell’s who actually replicate their cell growth. These chemo drugs are applied directly into the blood streams, where they attack the cancer cells and stop their growth.  The drugs like cytotoxic, firstly prevents the cell division. This is called as “impairing mitosis”. Further, these stop the growth of those blood vessels which supplies the tumor. Hence, chemotherapeutic drugs helps indirectly in a larger extend to stop the cancer cell growth from the primary stages.

Chemotherapy can be given in two forms:

  • Monotherapy:  in which the patient is given just one drug.
  • Combination therapy: here, the patient receives more than one drug.

Along with this, the treatment can also be given at different stages like Neo-adjuvant therapy, Chemo-radiation therapy and Adjuvant therapy.

Chemotherapy can be given by:

  • Oral chemotherapy: This involves swallowing of tablets orally.
  • Intravenous chemotherapy: by supplying straight into the vein

Chemotherapy is a treatment which can last for one day also, or can last for many days also. But, while going through these treatments many physical changes are observed; a cancer patient when treated with chemotherapeutic treatments undergoes several changes and faces side effects like:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Alopecia (Hair loss) 
  • Fatigue
  • Hearing impairment (deafness, ototoxicity) 
  • Neutropenia (low white blood cells) - Susceptibility to infections
  • Thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet count) - Blood clotting problems
  • Anemia (low red blood-cell count) 
  • Mucositis (inflammation of the mucous membrane) 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore Nails and skin
  • Cognitive problems
  • Libido (sex drive) and fertility
  • Bowel movement problems (diarrhea or constipation)
  • Depression

Among the above, the most important change so observed is the loss of hairs; the person completely becomes bald due to regular chemotherapeutic treatments. And also, depression is a stage wherein the person feels helpless due to vigorous pain and suffering, hence these patients needs positive and strong support from the surrounding especially from their dear ones. Cancer is a disease which can be cured, though the disease requires time but can be handled firmly and strongly with will power and strong support. 

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