All You Need to Know About Chemotherapy

September 7, 2021

In simple terms, the word chemotherapy refers to medicines or drugs that treat cancer. Traditional or standard chemotherapy uses cytotoxic drugs, meaning they will kill tumor cells. If your treatment plan includes traditional or standard chemotherapy, knowing how it works and what to expect can often assist you to prepare and make informed decisions about your care.

What does it do?

Depending on the type and spread of cancer: –

  • Cure: Attempt to destroy the cancerous cells such that they never grow back.
  • Control: Slow down the spread and expansion of cancerous cells to other parts of the body
  • Ease symptoms or reduction in size: In some cases, chemotherapy can’t cure or control the spread of cancer and is used to shrink tumours that cause pain or pressure. These tumours often still grow back.

Some emerging treatments aim to starve the tumours.

How does it work?

Chemotherapy targets cells that grow and divide rapidly and can work out throughout the body, unlike radiation or surgery that targets specific areas. On the downside, it can affect healthy cells like those of the skin, hair, intestines, and bone marrow leading to side effects like hair loss, weight loss, etc.

How will I feel during chemotherapy?

Depending on one’s overall health, type of cancer, and how far it has spread to determine the state of the patient, it is common to feel exhausted after your therapy. Take rest both on the day of the treatment and after.

Types of chemotherapy drugs include:

Alkylating agents: This group of medicines works directly on DNA to stop the cell from reproducing itself. These drugs will kill cells altogether in phases of the cell cycle. Some samples of alkylating agents are Chlorambucil, Cyclophosphamide, Cisplatin, and Carboplatin.

Antimetabolites: Drugs that interfere with a cell’s RNA and DNA. Anti-metabolites work when cells are dividing. Examples are Fluorouracil, Methotrexate and Fludarabine.

Plant alkaloids: These stop the cells from growing and dividing.

Antitumour antibiotics: Anti-neoplastic drugs are made from microorganisms. These antibiotics do not act like the antibiotics used to treat infections. They may work in all phases of the cell cycle. They either break up DNA strands or slow down or stop the DNA synthesis that cells need to grow. Examples are Bleomycin, Doxorubicin, and Mitoxantrone. The doctor will recommend an appropriate option for the individual. They may recommend combining chemotherapy with other options, like radiotherapy or surgery.

How long does it last?

You may have chemotherapy in “cycles,” which suggests a treatment period and then a resting period. For example, a 4-week cycle could also be a week of treatment proceeded by three weeks of rest. The rest allows your body to form new healthy cells. Once a cycle has been mapped out, it’s better to not skip a treatment, but your doctor may suggest it if side effects are serious. Then your medical team will likely plan a replacement cycle to assist you for your next visit.

Treatment at Apollo Spectra Hospitals

It is vital to get your body checked from time to time to ensure your wellbeing. Any signs of discomfort should not be ignored and must be checked. At Apollo Spectra, your health is our priority and hence we will ensure to give the best care to help you with chemotherapy to make sure you get the care you deserve.