Chemotherapy essentially means a chemical treatment. It is most wifely used to treat cancer in patients. Chemotherapy is a cocktail of chemicals that is administered to a patient in order to kill cancer cells directly, although it kills healthy cells as well. There are currently more than 100 chemicals in use for chemotherapy, with many more currently being investigated.
Chemotherapy, as said, is used most frequently for killing cancer cells, however it may also be used in order to shrink the size of a tumor , relieve pain and control the growth of a tumor when other treatment (such as surgery, radiation) is not possible.
Cancer patients’ cells do not split and reproduce in a natural manner: those cells affeted keep splitting and forming new cells uncontrollably. Chemotherapy is administered here in order to prevent the diseased cells from dividing, effectively preventing more diseased cells from being produced in the body. Unfortunately, also healthy cells can be affected in the process.
There is a wide variety of different manners in which patients may receive chemotherapy. While some may obtain oral medication, others will receive injections (intramuscular), or intravenous chemotherapy treatments, and so forth. One method that is used frequently is one where a catheter is inserted into a vein of the patient, usually in the neck or chest, that reaches the heart, so that when the chemicals are administered, they travel straight to the heart and are then pumped all over the rest of the body. To read about the various methods through which a chemotherapy may be administered, please click here.
How long a patient will receive chemotherapy is dependant on many different factors, including the type of cancer, the degree of how far the cancer has developed, whether it has spread to other parts of the body, and what chemicals and type of chemotherapy are used. A single sitting of chemotherapy may take minutes, hours or days, and may be repeated weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. A cycle of chemotherapy (usually determined over a period of a month – even if there are two or four sessions in a month) is repeated once or twice. Some patients, however, may receive chemotherapy for up to a year.
Because the patient receives a high dosage of chemicals to prevent cells from splitting, there are several side effects that may occur, including:
- nausea and/or vomiting
- diarrhea or constipation
- water retention
- hair loss
- memory loss
- impotence (sexual)
- weight loss/gain
- as the immune system is weakened, a patient may endure sepsis and other forms of infection
For more information about chemotherapy, please click here.
Some celebrities who have been diagnosed with cancer and received chemotherapy include Patrick Swayze, Melissa Etheridge, Olivia Newton-John, Sharon Osbourne, Kylie Minogue, Lance Armstrong, and Farrah Fawcett.Tags: cancer cells chemotherapy treatment