When someone has cancer, it is common for them to undergo chemotherapy, a medical procedure typically used to reduce the size of cancerous cells in the body. Chemotherapy is used around the world by millions of physicians, but what is it? And what does the treatment entail? We will explore that in greater detail in this article.
What is Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is a drug-based treatment that is used to slow the growth of rapidly developing cells in the body. While often associated with cancer treatment, chemotherapy is not specifically for cancer itself—it can be used as a solution to any problem with fast-growing cells. For example, immune system disorders and bone marrow disease can be treated with chemotherapy as well. There are many types of chemotherapy drugs and many ways to administer them as well, making it a versatile choice for cancer patients.
Someone may choose to use chemotherapy for many reasons, although the most popular surround treating cancer itself. Chemotherapy is often used as a stand-alone cancer treatment, a post-cancer treatment to help remove undiscovered cancer cells, or in preparation for other forms of therapy. Chemotherapy can reduce the size of a tumor until they can be safely removed via surgery or radiation therapy.
What are the Side Effects of Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy has some side effects, although they are typically associated with cancer itself. Because the treatment works to kill cells fast, healthy cells may be damaged in the process, causing side effects. Not everyone experiences these side effects, and some may be affected more than others. This means doctors may prescribe other drugs to help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy if they are greatly reducing a patient’s quality of life. Some side effects of chemotherapy are weight changes, hair loss, nausea and vomiting, change in appetite, easy bruising and bleeding, mood changes, gastrointestinal complications, numbness, tingling sensations, pain, and pale or dry skin.
Does Chemotherapy Always Work?
The short answer is no. Like all forms of medical treatment, there is always a chance chemotherapy won’t work on every patient. If tumors are not shrinking, if new tumors form, or if the cancer continues spreading after a long time on chemotherapy, chances are you may need to speak with your doctor about chemotherapy alternatives. Fortunately, there are many different methods for treating cancer. Your best bet is to talk with your doctor about your options.
If you or a loved one is suffering from cancer or any illness related to chemotherapy, remember that you are not alone in your experiences.
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