CANCER AND CHEMOTHERAPY

Posted by Trupti Shirole on Tue, Sep 21, 2010  
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Cancer is a disease in which there is uncontrolled cell division. In chemotherapy, medicines are used to attack the malignant cells in the body and stop them from multiplying. In some surgical cases chemotherapy is given to shrink the cancer.

 

Presently more than 50 drugs can be used for cancer chemotherapy. They can be used in several ways-

  • Only one drug or monotherapy
  • Combination chemotherapy in which more than one medicine is used

 

These medicines can be administered in the form of-

  • Oral tablets
  • Intravenous or intramuscular injections
  • Intrathecal chemotherapy (medicine is injected in the back)

 

Chemo-therapy can harm the healthy cells also, which causes side effects like-

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Pain
  • Hair loss
  • Anemia
  • Infection

 

Side effects vary according to every individual, the type and the dose of the medicines. Most side effects are temporary and disappear once treatment is completed. But sometimes chemotherapy can cause permanent damage to the heart, lungs, nerves, kidneys, reproductive organs. There can also be a possibility of a second cancer.

 

Medicines help relieve the symptoms.

  • Nausea can be relieved by the use of anti-emetic drugs.
  • Taking short naps can help relieve symptoms like tiredness, fatigue.
  • The use of cold compress around the scalp helps prevent hair loss to some extent.
  • Regular blood counts are necessary to rule out anemia. In severe anemic cases blood transfusions are required.
  • Use of mouthwash prevents mouth sores and ulcers.

 

Chemotherapy may be given at home or in the hospital. The course of chemotherapy depends upon the type of cancer, the chemotherapy drugs and how the body reacts to the treatment. There may be breaks between two sessions so that the body gets chance to build new healthy cells.

 

 

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