Chemotherapy Treatment and Side Effects

Chemotherapy or chemo works by stopping the growth of cancer cells that are lodged in the body. Although this treatment can help treat cancer, chemotherapy also has many side effects.

The type of chemotherapy treatment given will depend on the type, location, stage, spread of cancer cells, and the health condition of the cancer patient. The side effects caused by chemotherapy are also different, some are mild and some require immediate medical attention.

Fighting Dangerous Cells

Chemotherapy is a type of treatment used to destroy cancer cells that are harmful to the body. The way it works is by stopping or inhibiting the growth of cancer cells that grow and divide rapidly.

Chemotherapy brings a variety of benefits. Among others are:

1. Reduce the size of malignant tumors and relieve pain
2. Preventing the spread, slowing growth, while destroying cancer cells that develop to other parts of the body ( metastasis )
3. Destroy all cancer cells to perfection and prevent cancer recurrence

Although capable of destroying cancer cells, chemotherapy can also damage healthy cells around it. Healthy cells that are damaged are also what can cause side effects. However, the side effects that appear will generally disappear after chemotherapy treatment is complete.

When is Chemotherapy Done?

Chemotherapy is sometimes used as the only way to cure cancer. However, it is often performed in conjunction with surgery, radiation therapy, or other biologic therapies.

Generally, chemotherapy is done when:

1. Before surgery or radiation therapy. The goal is to make the tumor smaller.
2. After surgery or radiation therapy. This is done to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
3. When doing radiation therapy and biological therapy. The goal is to maximize the effect of the treatment.

The chemotherapy method used depends on the type of cancer suffered. Here are some ways to apply it:

1. Topical

Creams or gels containing chemotherapy drugs will be applied to the skin. This chemotherapy method is usually done to treat certain types of skin cancer.

2. Oral

Some chemotherapy can be taken in pill, capsule, or liquid form by mouth.

3. Inject

Injectable chemotherapy drugs can be given by injection into a muscle or fat layer, for example in the arm, thigh, or abdomen.

4. Intraperitoneal (IP)

Chemotherapy drugs are given directly through a surgical procedure or through a special tube into the abdominal cavity where there are the intestines, liver, and stomach.

5. Intra-arterial (IA)

Chemotherapy drugs are inserted directly into the arteries that supply blood to the cancer.

6. Intravenous (IV)

Chemotherapy drugs are injected directly into a vein.

Chemotherapy Side Effects

Chemotherapy is an effective cancer treatment and has been shown to save millions of lives. However, at the same time, chemotherapy also has various side effects.

The side effects of chemotherapy can vary from person to person, including their severity. These side effects can arise because these drugs do not have the ability to differentiate between cancer cells and healthy cells.

The effect, healthy cells that are around cancer cells can also be damaged and cause a number of side effects, such as:

1. Hair loss
2. Painful
3. Loss of appetite
4. Changes in the sense of taste, the mouth tastes bitter, the sour doesn’t even taste at all
5. Weight loss
6. Nausea and vomiting
7. Shortness of breath and heart rate abnormalities due to anemia
8. Dry and itchy skin
9. Bleeding, such as easy bruising, bleeding gums, and nosebleeds
10. Frequent infections
11. Hard to sleep
12. Psychological disorders, such as depression, stress, and anxiety
13. Decreased sex drive and impaired fertility (infertility)
14. Feeling tired and weak all-day
15. Constipation or diarrhea
16. Sprue

Although rare, in some cases chemotherapy can cause more serious problems, one of which is causing the white blood cell level to drop rapidly so that it can increase the risk of infection. If this happens, you are at high risk for more severe pain.

For this reason, as much as possible avoid people who are sick or infected while undergoing chemotherapy. If after chemotherapy you experience symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, chest pain, or bleeding, see a doctor immediately.

Things to Pay Attention to Before and After Chemotherapy

Generally, chemotherapy treatment is carried out in a hospital to monitor its effectiveness and the possibility of side effects. Usually, before chemotherapy is administered, the oncologist will thoroughly examine your health, from blood tests to X-Ray examinations.

After the examination is carried out, the doctor will develop a treatment plan, such as determining the type of chemotherapy received and how many times the chemotherapy is given. The preparation of this treatment plan will depend on the type of cancer suffered and the goals of treatment.

During chemotherapy treatment, you should always consult with your doctor when you want to take other medicines, including allergy medicines, herbs, or pain relievers. You are also advised to avoid drinking alcohol at least during chemotherapy.

Although everyone has a different reaction, most will feel tired and tired after undergoing chemotherapy. For this reason, you are advised to avoid driving your own vehicle or activities that require high energy or concentration after undergoing chemotherapy.

As much as possible, invite family members or friends to accompany and accompany you home.

Treating dangerous diseases such as cancer is not easy, including when undergoing chemotherapy sessions. So, while undergoing this treatment, always follow the oncology doctor’s advice and avoid things that can interfere with the treatment process so that the treatment being undertaken can run optimally.

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