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Overview

Chemotherapy - Treatment, Procedure And Side Effects

What is the treatment?

Chemotherapy is used in the treatment of cancer. There are a wide variety of drugs that are used in this method of treatment. Since cancer involves cell division, chemotherapy works to counter this effect by destroying the cancerous cells. In cases where surgery is used to remove the cancer is ineffective, the oncologist will recommend the treatment of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is sometimes used in conjunction with radiation and surgery in the treatment of cancer. It might be used to destroy the cancerous cells that remain after radiation therapy or even in order to shrink a cancerous growth before surgery or radiation therapy. The treatment is effective in decreasing the number of cancerous cells in the body and also helps to manage the symptoms of cancer.

While chemotherapy is an effective method of treatment, cancer cannot be cured completely. The chance of recurrence of cancer is always a possibility.

There are various side effects that occur after the course of chemotherapy treatment. The side effects that occur during the course of chemotherapy are relatively few.

Chemotherapy is administered in a course or a series of sessions that vary from person to person. The course could be every day for a week or once a week over a period of 8 weeks. It is also possible for the course to last several months. The variation of the time period for a course of chemotherapy depends on the recommendation from the oncologist and according to the drug being administered.

How is the treatment done?

Chemotherapy is an aggressive form of treatment wherein the drug attacks the cancer cells and destroys them. This form of treatment is administered in a number of ways. It could be given to the patient intravenously or as a tablet or even injected into the skin. A cycle of chemotherapy could be given on a daily basis for a week. Then the patient is given a resting period of two-three weeks before continuing with another cycle. Therefore one cycle could last for 3-4 weeks. However, the length of these cycles differs according to the type of drug and the patient.

When the drug is administered intravenously; a nurse will insert a needle into the vein in your arm which allows the chemo drug to drip through the IV. This happens at each session of the cycle of chemotherapy treatment. After the drug has been administered the nurse will then remove the needle. This process can take a few hours per session. The patient may experience exhaustion and fatigue during the session.

If it is a capsule or a tablet then the drug is given orally. You will be asked to swallow the pill and flush it down with a glass of water. The chemotherapy drug can also be administered directly to the affected organs or directly to an affected artery. In some cases, the drug can be injected into the skin, arm, leg or hip of the patient.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

The eligibility for the treatment of cancer with chemotherapy depends on the following criteria:

  • Most patients with breast cancer are eligible for chemotherapy, except in certain cases according to the discretion of the oncologist. Patients with 3rd or 4th stage of cancer can be treated with chemotherapy.
  • Chemotherapy is the best form of treatment for patients when the cancer cells have spread throughout the body and in the bloodstream or within the lymphatic system.
  • There is no particular age limit for chemotherapy. While patients who are elderly might be prone to additional side effects, chemotherapy is effective in treating patients of all ages.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

The medical professional in charge of the treatment will decide whether or not you are eligible for chemotherapy treatment. In general, chemotherapy is used to treat various types of cancer. But in certain cases, chemotherapy might not be advisable. They are -

  • Pregnant women in their first trimester are not eligible for chemotherapy. After the first trimester, they can safely proceed with this treatment.
  • Chemotherapy is usually not for people who suffer from cancer which does not spread quickly.

Are there any side effects?

The side effects of chemotherapy are as follows:

  • Nausea and vomiting: Patients often experience these symptoms after each chemotherapy session.
  • Exhaustion and fatigue: It is normal to experience fatigue, weakness, and exhaustion for a while after the treatment has been administered.
  • Hair loss: One of the most evident side effects of chemotherapy is the loss of hair. Sometimes patients bald gradually, while others might not lose much hair. In many cases, the hair grows back after the treatment is over.
  • Minor symptoms like fever, weight loss, constipation are commonly experienced after chemotherapy treatment.
  • Patients may notice changes in their skin or nails and have bleeding gums or mouth sores. After chemotherapy patients bruise easily, experience changes in their sense of taste, nerve damage and even loss of appetite.
  • Certain major side effects include; problems with fertility, memory problems or heart disorders.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

The guidelines that you should follow after the treatment of chemotherapy are:

  • Post-treatment patients suffer from sensitivity to sunlight. They should avoid direct sun exposure and use sunscreen for protection.
  • To deal with hair loss, you can use a wig to cover your head or cut your hair short.
  • It is important to eat healthy food and eat five short meals rather than three full meals in a day.
  • According to the doctor’s recommendation, you must take the medications as prescribed.
  • You can practice meditation and relaxing techniques. But it is important to stay active and exercise as much as possible, without straining yourself.

How long does it take to recover?

The amount of time it takes to recover depends on various factors such as stage of cancer, type of cancer, type of treatment and number of sessions. But on an average, the chemotherapy treatment lasts for about 2 to 6 months. Recovery at the end of the treatment can take a few weeks to a month.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The price of each chemotherapy session can range from Rs 15,000 to Rs 1, 00,000. Each patient might have to undergo a series of around 6 to 8 sessions or any number of sessions that the oncologist recommends.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of chemotherapy are not permanent since there is always a possibility of cancer to recur. Numerous studies show that patients have gone into remission after treatment with chemotherapy and surgery. The survival rate for cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy is relatively high.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The alternative methods of treatment of cancer besides chemotherapy are radiation therapy, surgery, homeopathic medicines.

Safety: Medium Effectiveness: Medium Timeliness: Low Relative Risk: High Side Effects: High Recovery Time: High Price Range: Rs. 15,000 - Rs. 1, 00,000

Popular Health Tips

Targeted Chemotherapy - How It Works?

Dr. Dinesh Singh 87% (60 ratings)
MBBS, MD-Radio Therapy
Oncologist, Ghaziabad
Targeted Chemotherapy - How It Works?
In the past, cancer was a disease that could not be cured. It was a threat to mankind. But as science has developed tremendously through all these years, today it is possible to fight cancer. Cancer therapies have evolved with time. Until the late 90s, most of the drugs worked by killing the cancer cells. Some of the normal cells were also killed by them, but it was acceptable due to the huge effect on cancer cells. In modern days, targeted therapies are being performed. Targeted therapy is a process of cancer treatment where instead of the cancer cells, the changes in the cells are targeted. Changes that help the cells grow, divide and thus spread cancer have been observed and so researchers can diagnose the right treatment that can block these affects and prevent cancer. This therapy uses drugs and it is different from traditional chemotherapy. There are two types of Targeted therapy. Small-molecule drugs: These drugs are small so that they can enter cells easily and target the changes inside the cells. They are taken as pills. They work by keeping the tissue around the tumor and starve it by stopping blood vessels that bring it nutrients. Monoclonal antibodies: These are used to target the outer surface of cancer cells. They work like a plastic plug in an electric socket. They help chemotherapy and radiation therapy to cure cancer cells. Fields: Targeted therapies are used in the fields below Breast cancer Lung cancer Colorectal cancer Melanoma Kidney cancers How It Works: Targeted therapy can be used as a treatment option for cancer in the following ways: Destroy cancer cells: Cancer cells hide well from the immune system. This therapy points them out so that the immune system can destroy them. It also boosts the immune system to work better. Stop cancer cells growth: This therapy interferes with the proteins that divides the cancer cells and thus controls their growth. Kill the tumor: Blood vessels feed the cancer tumor. This therapy surrounds the tumor and stops the blood supply so that the tumor does not grow and remains small. And if the tumor already has blood supply, then it kills the blood vessels and causes the tumor to shrink. Deliver cell-killing substances: It delivers the cell-killing substances to the cancer cells. They are the monoclonal antibodies that are combined with chemotherapy drugs, toxins and radiation. Cause cancer cell death: Cancer cells avoid the dying process. These therapies cause them to go through the process. Side Effects: Targeted therapies are less toxic than standard chemotherapy. So it is a better option but it still has some side effects. Diarrhea Liver problems Skin problems Problems with wound healing Difficulty with blood clotting High blood pressure Gastrointestinal perforation Even though it has some side effects, it is still way better and much more effective than traditional chemotherapy. So, cancer patients are advised to go through this modern-day therapy.
3516 people found this helpful

Radiotherapy - How It Can Help In Treating Lung Cancer?

MBBS, MS - General Surgery, FRCS
Oncologist, Kolkata
Radiotherapy - How It Can Help In Treating Lung Cancer?
Radiotherapy is a kind of treatment that kills the cancer cells by using high-energy beams. Specialists use radiotherapy to treat a wide range of lung cancer. For early stage lung cancer, the radiotherapy may get rid of the cancer totally. For the small cell lung cancer you may have radiotherapy only. Then again you may have it with another treatment, for example, chemotherapy or surgery. For small cell lung cancer, radiotherapy is used with or after chemotherapy. Chemotherapy makes the tumor in the lung shrink. You may have radiotherapy to your cerebrum, which tackles any cancer cells that may have spread to the brain. This is called prophylactic cranial illumination (PCI). In case of advanced lung cancer, the treatment contracts the tumor and controls it for a while. It additionally decreases symptoms like shortness of breath. The types of radiotherapy used for the lungs include: Outer radiotherapy This kind of radiotherapy comes from a machine and is administered to the body through an external source. It depends on the kind of cancer and the progression of the same. You may have three radiotherapy sittings every day for around 12 days. This sort of radiotherapy is known as CHART ceaseless hyperfractionated quickened radiotherapy. A few people with small cell lung cancer may have treatment twice a day. If you are getting radiotherapy to control the side effects of lung cancer, you may have a single treatment or day by day medications for up to 3 weeks. Inner radiotherapy This is called brachytherapy or endobronchial treatment. This will be administered during a bronchoscopy. The radiation is given through a thin tube that the specialist puts inside your aviation route for a few of minutes. Specialists use this sort of treatment to shrink a tumor that is blocking or pushing your breathing track and making breathing troublesome for you. These are some of the procedures that take place while you are having lung cancer radiotherapy: 1. Radiotherapy machines are enormous. The machines are fixed in one position or are sometimes ready to go around your body to give treatment from various angles. 2. Prior to your first treatment, your radiographers will clarify what you will hear and see. The treatment rooms normally have docks for you to connect to music players. So you can listen to your own choice of music. 3. You cannot feel radiotherapy when you really have the treatment. It takes anything from one second to a few minutes. It is essential to lie similarly situated every time, so the radiographers may take a short time to get you prepared. 4. Once you are in the right position, the staff will allow you to sit in the space for a couple of minutes. They watch you constantly on a closed circuit TV screen. They may request that you hold your breath or take shallow breaths during the treatment.
2873 people found this helpful

Treatment of Testicular Cancer

Dr. Monish De 87% (62 ratings)
MBBS, Post Graduate Diploma In Medicine, Fellowship In Medical Oncology
Oncologist, Kolkata
Treatment consist of removal of testis followed by chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Its a curable disease

Chemotherapy - Ways You Can Get Through It!

Dr. Dinesh Singh 87% (60 ratings)
MBBS, MD-Radio Therapy
Oncologist, Ghaziabad
Chemotherapy - Ways You Can Get Through It!
Chemotherapy can be frightening, and the very thought of going through it can be an ordeal for most people. Many resources and tips can be used to minimize the discomfort and lessen the burden. Let us have a look at a few of these. Support network: Chemotherapy can be physically daunting and more than the treatment a person needs all the emotional and moral support he/she can get. Have friends and family always by your side. You can have peace of mind when there is a person you can trust and bank upon in taking care of you. Discuss the medication with your oncologist: Before understanding the treatments have a detailed discussion about the current medication you are undergoing, as this may hamper the chemotherapy treatment. The dosage has to be adjusted accordingly. Keep the body hydrated: Your body gets dehydrated on the day of the treatment. Please ensure that the body is properly hydrated and plenty of fluids are there in the body. Be comfortable: Taking chemotherapy can have an effect on your morale. Hence make sure that you are keeping yourself occupied with books and games or your favorite music to while away the time. Wear comfortable clothes: This makes all the difference in the treatment as having loose fitting clothes can relive pressures in your mind. Always choose clothes that you are comfortable in. Ask questions: Chemotherapy treatments can and will cause side effects. Hence ask and keep yourself updated as much as possible. More importantly after the treatment ask questions on the possible recuperation period and how best to go about it. Symptoms of nausea and vomiting: It is natural that most of the patients feel light headed or have a vomiting sensation when undergoing the treatment. Always make sure that the doctor or the nurse knows about it. Make yourself as comfortable as possible. Some medications to prevent nausea can be had along with the chemotherapy drugs. Avoiding infection: Chemotherapy affects the immune system of the body. Hence it can get easily susceptible to diseases. Have a general cleanliness around your surroundings. Avoid crowds if possible and keep your hands always clean and wear clean, comfortable clothes that don't stick to the body. Right diet: Chemotherapy makes you prone to weight loss. Hence having the desired nutritional levels is mandatory. Consult a dietician and eat healthy. It is not advisable to gain weight either during or after chemotherapy. Adequate Rest: Our body needs all the rest that it can get when undergoing chemotherapy. Make sure that the body gets proper sleep and is relaxed. You can try for meditation and simple yoga exercises that can help in rejuvenating the body. Skin Care: Prolonged treatment can affect the moisture content in the skin. Have a good skin cream and lotions handy to take care of it. In some cases, chemotherapy causes hair fall. Make sure that a proper wig or a treatment plan is made beforehand to take care of the issues. Chemotherapy treatment can be emotionally daunting. Having a few precautions like the ones stated above can make all the difference in how successful we are in coping with it.
3214 people found this helpful

APML - Is Chemotherapy The Only Way Out?

Dr. Mukul Gharote 86% (29 ratings)
MBBS, DM - Oncology, MD - General Medicine
Oncologist, Nashik
APML - Is Chemotherapy The Only Way Out?
There are more than hundred varieties of blood cancer, but the most common ones are leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a type of leukemia, is when the white blood cells in the marrow begin to grow uncontrollably. This is an acute condition and both the onset and progress are very rapid. The cause is not known, and given the rapid progress, even treatment is often difficult. A more severe form of AML is the APML which is acute promyelocytic leukemia, which leads to reduced number of white and red blood cells and plasma. This causes the following symptoms: Anemia Increased incidence of infections Excessive bleeding from even minor cuts Bleeding from nose and gums Easy bruising Blood in the urine Extreme paleness and tiredness What is different about APML? There is one distinguishing factor with APML, which is that they contain a protein which when released into the bloodstream can cause severe bleeding, which may be very difficult to control. Chemotherapy kills these cells and so releases the proteins into the bloodstream. These cells need to be managed without chemotherapy, as the patient can even die of uncontrolled bleeding. With medical advances, two non-chemotherapy agents have been identified all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA, vesanoid, or tretinoin) and arsenic trioxide (ATO or trisenox). ATRA: This is a type of vitamin A which is used either alone, in combination with chemo, in combination with arsenic trioxide, and also in combination with both chemo and arsenic trioxide. The effect is different in different people helps control spread, helps prevent recurrence, and helps control symptoms. In many people, it has been successfully used instead of chemotherapy. ATRA is also used as a long-term maintenance agent. Side effects from ATRA include fever, dry skin, rashes, mouth sores, increased cholesterol, and swollen feet. These go away with stoppage of the drug. ATO: Arsenic is poisonous when given in large amounts. However, it was discovered that it could be used to treat APML with effects similar to ATRA. It is used alone, in combination with chemotherapy, with ATRA, or with both. It helps control the growth of cells and also helps in long-term maintenance therapy. ATO dosage needs to be monitored as it can cause heart rhythm issues. With both these drugs, there is a significant side effect, known as differentiation syndrome. Often seen during the first cycle of treatment, this happens when the leukemia cells release a protein into the blood. Symptoms include fever, breathing, kidney damage, and severe fluid buildup. With these two drugs being widely used effectively, chemotherapy is not the only treatment option for APML.
3303 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

I had given radiation and after radiation I am not able to eat I wanted to know is it because of radiation or not if yes please provide some medicine.

Dr. Jatin Soni 94% (32777 ratings)
MBBS
General Physician, Mumbai
Apart from taking symptomatic treatment I will suggest you to take injection vitcofol 2cc intramuscularly every alternate days for five pricks over the buttocks through a health professional

What is the best food to have after recovering from cancer and the chemotherapy process? Please tell about some vegetarian and vegan diets. Thank you.

Dr. Jatin Soni 94% (32777 ratings)
MBBS
General Physician, Mumbai
Few diet tips - Not to eat fried food items and Can eat All green vegetables, moong , chana , Dal , rice etc And to apply ghee over chappati and don’t apply oil over chappati And to drink milk mixed with turmeric powder twice a day And If possible eat eggs on alternate days And If possible in breakfast eat atleast one bajra ka rotla And Eat seasonal fruit

My father is having tongue tumor under left tongue. Doctor told my Father has cancer by the report FNAC. Is it confirmed report for cancer. He told for chemotherapy. Will it be good in the age of 77. Doctor is saying infection is spreading for tongue to lungs. Is there any side effect of chemotherapy. Is there any other option to treat in place of chemotherapy. Kindly suggest should we go for chemotherapy. Is medicine in chemotherapy is different in different hospital. Radiation specialist will give chemotherapy. Can he agile.

Dr. Vinod Goyal 92% (6163 ratings)
Ex Sen.V.Surgeon/Research Scientist, M.D.(Alternative Medicine/tibetan/chinese/acupuncture), Vaida/ Unani, Homeopath
Unani Specialist, Moga
Hi dear it is cancer, spreading to other body parts and soon it will spread to more body parts. Bcz of age and side effects- I do not recommend chemo. Ther are a variety of chemo drugs in different hospitals. Best course will be cancero medicine course.

What is chemotherapy. And what is acute myeloid leukemia good thing than did skid SK is SK hai Haydn JFK.

Dr. Kumar Sambhav 86% (1012 ratings)
MBBS
General Physician, Delhi
Hi, AML (acute myeloid leukemia) progresses rapidly, with myeloid cells interfering with the production of normal white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, recurrent infections and bruising of the body easily. Chemotherapy is treatment option, can be approved by a medical oncologist. Other treatment options are stem-cell transplants. Rest of your question is not clear.

Health Quizzes

Chemotherapy Myths and Facts

Diet Clinic 93% (1417 ratings)
B.Sc.(Hons), P.G.Dietetics
Dietitian/Nutritionist, Gurgaon
A vegetarian diet helps cope with the effects of chemotherapy. True or false?
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