Chemotherapy, Here’s What You Should Know

Chemotherapy is one of the treatment procedures using very strong chemicals to stop or inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the body. In addition to cancer, chemotherapy is also used for the treatment of bone marrow diseases and disorders of the body’s immune system, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. According To Narayana Health, What is the Bone Marrow Transplant Procedure | Dr. Rajib De

Chemotherapy can be combined with treatment methods, such as hormone therapy, surgery, and radiotherapy. The implementation of this procedure can be done at home by taking oral chemotherapy drugs or through an infusion done in a hospital under the supervision of a doctor. This choice is determined based on the type of cancer, its stage, and the patient’s health condition.

The chemotherapy implementation time can usually last for several months which is divided into several sessions. This procedure is a systemic treatment that affects the whole body, so it can cause various side effects that the patient feels after the therapy.

Chemotherapy Indications

The implementation of chemotherapy is the main method of cancer treatment recommended by doctors because it aims to:

1. Inhibits the spread of cancer.
2. Cure cancer as a whole. Chemotherapy is also used after surgery to kill cancer cells that are still left in the body.
3. Increase the success of other treatment methods, preoperative or chemotherapy combined with radiotherapy.
4. Alleviate the symptoms suffered.

Chemotherapy Costs

The cost of chemotherapy varies greatly, depending on the type and stage of cancer, the drugs used, and the number of therapy cycles required.

Costs that also need to be prepared are treatment costs due to the side effects of chemotherapy, such as infections and other conditions that require hospitalization, or advanced chemotherapy beyond the initial plan due to cancer that has not disappeared or is growing back.

Ask clearly to the hospital or clinic where you will undergo chemotherapy about the cost estimate so that you can prepare for it. Chemotherapy Treatment and Side Effects

Chemotherapy Alert

Chemotherapy is a treatment for serious conditions. Therefore, mature planning is needed from the patient and the implementing doctor team. The planning involves consideration of the type of chemotherapy that will be carried out, the side effects that will appear, as well as the level of chemotherapy success.

Chemotherapy planning can be done after the patient undergoes a series of tests (for example, blood tests, scans, or X-rays) to find out the patient’s health condition, whether they are strong enough to undergo chemotherapy or not. Examination of dental infections is also needed because dental infections are at risk of spreading due to the effects of chemotherapy on the body.

After knowing the patient’s condition, the doctor’s team can determine the type and duration of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is usually given in cycle counts, which consist of chemotherapy time plus rest time. For example, chemotherapy for 1 week followed by a rest period of 3 weeks. The implementation of chemotherapy generally takes several months consisting of several cycles.

One thing to remember is that chemotherapy is not recommended for pregnant women because it can cause the baby or fetus to be deformed. For those who will undergo chemotherapy, it is expected to use contraception during chemotherapy to prevent pregnancy.

The same warning is also given for patients who consume other drugs, including herbal drugs. The reaction of these drugs to chemotherapy drugs cannot be predicted. Drugs that are usually given in chemotherapy include drugs that can prevent cell division (alkylating agents), drugs that can inhibit the formation of RNA and DNA (antimetabolites), as well as antitumor antibiotics that change the DNA in cancer cells.

Before Chemotherapy

Preparation before chemotherapy is done to anticipate the effects caused after therapy. Some people feel weak and tired after chemotherapy, therefore, it is best to ask for the help of others to escort and accompany them during chemotherapy.

In addition, patients need enough rest after chemotherapy. Therefore, help is needed in doing housework or taking care of children, at least for one day after chemotherapy.

Although many chemotherapy patients can still work during this procedure, the working hours should be adjusted to their physical condition. Arrangement of working hours that are suitable with a lighter workload should be done in order to anticipate the effects of post-chemotherapy.

Talk and plan everything with the doctor, family. or a friend who can provide support during the therapy process.

Chemotherapy Procedures

Generally, chemotherapy in hospitals is given intravenously, ie through infusion, although sometimes chemotherapy can also be administered orally in the form of tablets.

In the intravenous chemotherapy procedure, the drug is delivered from a bag of drug fluid connected by a hose to one of the veins. The distribution of the drug liquid can be done through a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) tube that is installed in the vein of the patient’s arm for several weeks or months. The hose is connected to a pump to regulate the amount of medicine and the speed of drug delivery.

Similar to the performance of the PICC tube, the delivery of chemotherapy drugs can also be done with a tube inserted into the chest and connected to one of the veins near the heart (central line).

In addition, drug delivery can also be done through a cannula tube that is temporarily installed for a short period in a vein on the back of the hand or forearm. It can also be through an implanted port , which is a small device that is implanted under the skin during the therapy period. To channel the medicinal fluid, a needle is used that is inserted into the device by penetrating the skin.

In addition to intravenous, chemotherapy can be done through the artery around the location of the cancer (intra-arterial). As for cancer in organs such as intestines, stomach, liver, ovaries, chemotherapy is performed in the abdominal cavity ( intraperitoneal chemotherapy ).

Chemotherapy can also be administered through drug injections, although this is rarely done. Some of them are through injection under the surface of the skin (subcutaneous chemotherapy), injection into the muscle (intramuscular chemotherapy), or direct injection into the spine (intrathecal chemotherapy).

As for skin cancer cases, the chemotherapy given is generally in the form of a cream.

After Chemotherapy

After the implementation of chemotherapy, the patient’s physical condition will be constantly monitored by the doctor’s team to know the level of success. The monitoring can be in the form of regular blood tests and body scans.

In addition, the doctor will also monitor the side effects caused after the chemotherapy procedure. Thus, the doctor team can make adjustments to the implementation of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy Side Effects

Chemotherapy can cause unpleasant effects on the body. In addition to killing cancer cells, chemotherapy can also damage other cells in the body, such as hair cells, skin, and the lining of the digestive tract. However, not all patients will experience chemotherapy side effects. Some of the side effects that are usually experienced after the procedure are:

1. Nausea.
2. Vomiting.
3. The body feels tired or weak.
4. Hair loss.
5. Infection.
6. Anemia.
7. Decreased appetite.
8. Changes in the skin and nails.
9. Fever.
10. Canker sores or sores in the mouth.
11. Constipation.
12. Diarrhea.
13. Concentration and memory disorders.

There are also a number of side effects that are usually only felt after a few months or years after undergoing chemotherapy. These side effects include the risk of secondary cancer, heart problems, lung tissue damage, kidney disorders, and peripheral nerve disorders ( peripheral neuropathy ).

Many post-chemotherapy side effects can be prevented and treated. Most of these side effects will disappear once the chemotherapy is stopped. However, medical treatment is required immediately if chemotherapy patients experience the following conditions:

1. Chest pain.
2. Muscle pain.
3. Bleeding gums and nose.
4. Canker sores that result in the patient not being able to eat or drink.
5. Diarrhea up to four times a day.
6. Continuous vomiting.
7. Bleeding from a part of the body that does not stop after trying to stop it for 10 minutes.
8. Shivering.
9. Difficulty breathing.

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