According to the figures put forth by the National Cancer Association, 90% of the fresh cases which were detected with colorectal cancer in the US were people above 50 years of age. The pharmaceutical industry earns revenue of over 0 billion dollars by selling chemotherapy drugs alone. Chemotherapy has been effectively used by oncologists over the years for managing cancerous growths of various types and forms in patients. However, there has always been an element of doubt surrounding this treatment form. Most often, the side effects and associated repercussions are known to outweigh the advantages.
Chemotherapy is essentially a systemic form of treatment. Chemicals are introduced into the blood stream of the patient and are targeted to towards destroying cancer cells, wherever they are found. Chemotherapy drugs are formulated to attack rapidly multiplying cells in the body. They can rarely create a localized impact. When they come in contact with cancerous cells, they work towards impairing their growth and eventually destroy them.
The frequency, type and the means of administering chemotherapy treatment will depend solely on the condition of the patient. The type of cancer he is suffering from is also a major factor in deciding on the course of chemotherapy. The treatment can be provided either at home, in a local clinic or even through hospitalization. Chemotherapy may be given to a patient for a few days, weeks or even months together. Alternatively, it is also given intermittently in certain cases. The dose is determined on the basis of drug toxicity and the body weight of the patient.
Chemotherapy Drugs: Usage
Chemotherapy drugs have been in high demand through the years. There are almost 50 of them which have been developed over time. These can be administered in the following ways:
In some cases only one chemotherapy drug is prescribed to be administered in isolation. This is known as a monotherapy.
Most often, two or more drugs could be administered in combination with each other. The treatment is the resultant effect of a group of these drugs which act in tandem.
Sometimes chemotherapy will be given along with other forms of treatment like radiotherapy and surgery for a cumulative impact.
Following these patterns, the chemotherapy drug formulations can be introduced into the patient's body in several forms. One of course is through oral medications. The other option is to inject them into the body through an intravenous or intramuscular injection. Alternatively, the drug can be injected through a needle on the backside.
Chemotherapy is always advised and implemented with due discretion because of the numerous harmful side effects it has been associated with. Some of these might include:
One of the most common side effects would be nausea and vomiting. The condition can be kept under control with the intake of anti sickness drugs. The oncologist will be normally prescribing some of these medications along with the chemotherapy drugs.
Hair loss could be another serious and potentially unmanageable side effect to deal with during the course of chemotherapy. Doctors might advise a cold compress around the skull area. This will increase the pace of re-growth once the treatment is withdrawn.
Chemotherapy patients might experience extreme fatigue. Sometimes, leading a normal life may seem difficult. Therefore, patients will be advised to take rest intermittently for sustained energy levels.
Chemotherapy drugs can enhance the susceptibility to infections. In the process of destroying cancer cells, they also end up destroying the white blood cells of the body. These white blood cells are responsible for fighting infection. Therefore, the infecting bacteria and viruses find it easier to attack the system.
Mouth sores and ulcers are also common amongst patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
These are some of the most common side effects of chemotherapy, although there could be several other case specific ones as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the negative impact of missing a chemotherapy treatment?
My mother has stage 3c ovarian cancer. Very healthy up until her diagnosis. She's only 63 years old. She was scheduled for her 6th and last chemo treatment this past Thursday 8/14/08. All through her treatment, everything has been very good. Her blood counts have all been good, her CA-125 level has always been below 10. When the doctor completed her surgery - he was very confident that he removed all of the cancer. The only reason it's level 3c to my knowledge is that one of the lymph nodes checked for cancer came back positive. They checked 14 in all, and one came back. Damn that cancer!
As I mentioned, she was scheduled to get her 6th and last treatment. She gets carboplatin and taxol combined...and she's also on a study for Avastin. I hope she's getting that too! The study will continue on, but the chemo is done after this last time. Unfortunately, she could not get her chemo done this past Thursday because her platelets were low... they were around 80 or so. Today (Monday) she got her blood work done, and they have raised up to 125 which is an acceptable level to have the chemo treatment. Here is my question....How bad is it that she had to postpone her treatment. Are there any known longterm side effects to this? She can have her treatment as early as tomorrow (Tuesday) 5 days after her intial schedule....My family and I are going to Wisconsin Dells with my nieces and parents this upcoming weekend. My dad turns 70 on the 22nd of August and we were also going to celebrate my mom finishing her chemo treatment. I worry that if she receives the treatment tomorrow (Tuesday) - she won't feel that well for the trip. (we only live 3 hours away in chicago)... Typically she is fine for the first 3 days after chemo, then it gets kind of iffy for the following 4 or 5 days. So if she gets it on Tuesday I'm worried she won't feel right. She could get it on Thursday however and probably be OK for the trip...but that means it will have been a week since her scheduled day to receive the treatment.
I know asking questions on Yahoo might not be the best solution. Of course we are waiting to hear from her gynecology-oncologist on what we should do....but i would love to hear from anyone on here their opinion. Have the chemo on Tuesday or Thursday? My common sense tells me she should have it asap, regardless of what the plans are for the weekend...but i also know how much she is looking forward to this trip..and i want her to be healthy for that... does an extra 2 days really matter a lot? Thanks for any advice or help!
If it were me I would have the infusion as soon as I was cleared for it.
Chemo protocols are determined through long clinical trials that establish the optimum dosage and frequency.
The more you deviate from the schedule, the greater the chance that the chemo will not have the maximum effect.
I certainly wouldn't let a vacation schedule change my treatment schedule.