A Quick Guide to Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that makes use of one or more specific anti-cancer medications as part of a structured chemotherapy regimen. Chemotherapy can be given either as a curative purpose to lengthen life for the patient suffering from cancer, or it can also aim to prevent or reduce complications from the disease. Often times, when the number of conventional medicines being used in a patient’s treatment plan is fairly high, chemotherapy is the primary recourse for achieving those goals. Unfortunately, when there are many choices out there, it can be difficult to know which is best for you and your situation.
As of now, there are two main types of chemotherapy used today, namely; intravenous chemotherapy (IVG) and oral chemotherapy. For our purposes here, we will be focusing on intravenous chemotherapy, also known as systemic chemotherapy. In IVG, medicine is being administered via the vein to reach the cancerous areas. Generally, doctors prefer intravenous chemotherapy to be administered to young children and to patients with poor swallowing ability or short attention span. This is because oral chemotherapy often has to be administered to a patient multiple times, which can lead to memory issues if a patient cannot retain information properly.
In IVG, the cancerous cells are targeted and destroyed using specially designed antibodies. When these antibodies come into contact with the cancerous cells, they attack the proteins they find. Once this process begins, the drug-eliminating antibodies (DA’s) help to exterminate any remaining cancer cells. In IVG, there is no need for the patient to ingest the drugs directly into their body; therefore, fewer side effects occur.
Intravenous chemotherapy is given directly into a vein where the catheter is inserted. Because of this procedure, there is no need for the patient to ingest the chemotherapy drugs, making it considerably safer than orally ingested chemotherapy drugs. Additionally, in IVG, there is no need to empty the stomach, making it easier for patients to swallow their medication. As a result, IVG is often considered more convenient and easier for doctors to administer.
Unlike many other forms of treatment, when chemotherapy is performed, the doctor will usually perform blood tests to determine what type of treatment is needed. These blood tests will determine if the patient’s cancer is responding to chemotherapy effectively. The blood tests will also indicate whether or not the patient’s overall health is improving. The blood tests will also determine whether or not there are other options that can be used instead of chemotherapy, such as radiation or surgery.
Chemotherapy treatments may take several weeks or months, depending on how aggressive the cancer is. During this time, the patient may feel tired and weak. This is because chemotherapy kills cancer cells by injecting medicine into the blood and killing any remaining healthy cells within the body. However, if chemotherapy is used regularly, the cancer will eventually stop growing, with the patient then living a long, productive life.