Chemotherapy

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the use of chemicals, both intravenously and orally, to kill cancer cells.

Most commonly, the treatment is combined with other types of chemotherapy to deal with the disease in different ways.

Why is it performed?

Chemotherapy can be performed for several purposes:

  • Cure the cancer
  • To shrink the cancer
  • To prevent the cancer from spreading
  • Mitigate the symptoms that are occurring due to cancer.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is used to treat many types of cancer. We can distinguish different kinds of chemotherapy according to its purpose and the combination with other treatments:

  • Curative: the result sought is to cure the disease.
  • Palliative: for cases in which the tumor is in an advanced stage. The objective is to control symptoms in an attempt to lengthen and improve the patient’s quality of life.
  • Adjuvant: basically administered after a main treatment such as surgery, to reduce the incidence of metastasis.
  • Polychemotherapy: a combination of several drugs to reduce the amount of each individual drug and thus increase the therapeutic potency of all the substances together.
  • Monochemotherapy: administration of a single antitumor drug to achieve disease control.
  • Concomitant radiochemotherapy: the aim is to potentiate the local effect of radiation and systemic current with chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is used to treat many types of cancer.

Preparation for chemotherapy

The main thing is to explain clearly to the patient what the treatment consists of, how long it will last (approximately) and when it will be carried out. In this way the patient can prepare himself and adapt his routines.

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On the other hand, it is very important to be well nourished and to avoid drugs during the treatment, since they can have negative effects on the organism.

Post-procedure care

Chemotherapy can be very effective but it leaves the body much more sensitive and can cause some side effects, such as dizziness, nausea or fatigue. It is advisable to follow some care:

  • Visiting the doctor regularly to assess progress and follow up.
  • Eat healthy: have a balanced diet, with fruits and vegetables and increase protein intake. Avoid substances that can aggravate your health problems, such as alcohol and cigarettes.
  • Exercise: during recovery it is vital to exercise and it shows in the patient’s health.
  • See a specialist if you have memory problems, a common problem after undergoing treatment.
  • Watch out for infections, as you are more vulnerable. A good tip is to wash your hands frequently.

Alternatives to chemotherapy

In most cases chemotherapy is given in combination with other therapies. In this way they try to achieve better results. Some of the most common are the following:

  • Targeted therapy
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Surgery: once the tumor is reduced in size it is easier to operate. In many cases, surgery is the first option and then it is complemented with chemotherapy.