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What to Expect from Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a treatment offered to cancer patients, which involves cancerous cells being attacked and killed. Chemotherapy is available in various dosage forms. It can be administered as a tablet or as an injection or infusion.

When a malignant tumor - refers to the rapid growth of cancerous cells - forms in our body, the cancerous cells spread from the original tumor so that new tumors are formed. In the past, any treatment offered to treat cancer labeled as chemotherapy. However, as alternative treatments have come to the surface, the chemotherapy concept has changed. In today's world, when people refer to chemotherapy they generally recognize as the treatment, which aims to kill cancerous cells. Among available cancer therapies, chemotherapy is completely opposite to targeted therapies (treatments that treat cancer in a different way than chemotherapy).

Photo of a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy
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What you can expect from Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy can be used in a variety of ways. Curative chemotherapy aims to cure cancer completely; whilst in other instances, the therapy can be used to make other treatments more successful, for instance, when used in conjunction with radiotherapy. Chemotherapy also helps to make conditions bearable, if the cancer has reached in an incurable, advanced stage. This is part of what is known as palliative care within chemotherapy and aims to slow the cancer's progression down whilst alleviating the patient's pain. In the treatment of cancer, sometimes a patient will undergo additional chemotherapy. This additional therapy is needed just to reduce the chances of the cancer relapse.

Whilst chemotherapy has helped scores of patients across the world to recover from cancer, the treatment itself can come with some setbacks. For the reason that the medications used in therapy could not differentiate between cancerous and good cells, meaning that cells that aren’t need to be attacked are destroyed. This can lead to adverse side effects, such as bacterial or viral infections, excessive tiredness and other sickness. Cancer patients also lose their hair due to adverse reactions by chemotherapeutic drugs, as the drugs potentially attack the fast-growing cells responsible for hair growth.

The side effects of chemotherapy can vary, and whilst some may find them to be mild, others may have more difficulty when undergoing them, with some finding the pain involved being extremely testing and severe. This explains why some patients opt out of the treatment, even though they knew that their lives are shortened as a result. However, once the treatment is finished, the majority of the side effects also conclude.

In terms of the future, doctors and scientists have continued to develop strategies to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. One potential cancer treatment that has been worked on is a 'smart bomb', which involves only cancerous cells being attacked and healthy cells being left alone. Meanwhile, scientists in London recently unveiled a technique involving the blockage of oxygen-sensitive enzymes and combining PHD2 inhibitors with chemotherapy to make the chemotherapy more effective whilst keeping side effects to a minimum. It is said that leaking blood vessels can be responsible for inefficiency of chemotherapy, as they prevent such medications from reaching the cancerous cells.

Author Kat Kraetzer is an experienced blogger and he has been working in the health-care industry for many years.

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