Gene mutations in cells make cells work abnormally and cause cancer. This disease must be treated as soon as the symptoms of cancer arise, so as not to spread to healthy tissues or organs. One of the most common cancer treatments is chemotherapy. Do you know what chemotherapy is like? Come on, check out the following review.
Chemotherapy is a method of treatment of the disease using drugs. However, most people define chemotherapy (often abbreviated as chemo) as a method of cancer treatment using drugs specifically concocted to destroy cancer cells.
Chemotherapy first appeared after the first world war, when many researchers began trying to treat cancer. One of the experiments conducted for the treatment of cancer is to animals, unfortunately the results are not so good. Then great history emerged during the second world war, chemical weapons research turned out to have a tremendous impact on humans. Chemical weapons are accidentally inhaled by humans and are able to treat several diseases.
It took about 15 years after the second world war that the cure for cancer was truly successful. Diseases such as leukemia and Hodgkin’s disease were cured by almost 90%. In the 70s, cancer drugs were successfully developed and until now at least every year there are about 1-2 cancer drugs. Cancer drugs are more familiarly called chemotherapy.
Today, most of these drugs-based cancer treatments are done in hospitals or in palliative care centers. According to the American Cancer Society, the main goals of cancer treatment with chemotherapy are:
Curing cancer (curative)
In some cases, chemo can completely destroy and remove cancer cells from the body. The best result is that the cancer cells will not come back. However, not all cases are always like that. This comes back again at how severe the cancer is and where it is located.
Prevent the spread and relieve symptoms (palliative)
If the cancer is difficult or even incurable, chemo is done to control cancer cells from developing and spreading to become more malignant. This will give the patient a greater life expectancy.
However, when cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body and progress to an advanced stage, chemo can be done to relieve cancer symptoms such as pain in certain areas of the body, thus improving the quality of life of patients.
In addition to being intended for the treatment of cancer, chemotherapy is also used in dealing with some of the other medical conditions below:
Spinal cord disease
Diseases involving the spinal cord and blood cells can be treated with a bone marrow transplant. Chemotherapy is then used as a preparation before the transplant procedure.
Immune system disorders
Low-dose chemotherapy can help in controlling the immune system’s excessive response to some diseases. For example, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Who needs chemotherapy?
In general, chemotherapy is used for the treatment of cancer. In some cases, this therapy is the only treatment option to overcome cancer. But some people have alternative treatments other than chemotherapy.
Therefore, the method of cancer treatment determined by the doctor will depend on the type and spread of cancer, as well as other medical conditions owns by the patient.
Chemotherapy Side Effects
Chemotherapy is known to cause several side effects such as:
- Loss of hair
- Lack of red blood cells (Anemia)
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep disturbances
- Constipation (difficulty defecating/ bowel movements)
To reduce side effects, most doctors give chemo based on a cycle that is continuously maintained during the therapy period. This cycle often involves one continuous period of therapy followed by one specific period of rest. Each cycle usually lasts one month or four months; Based on certain factors, a patient may receive one week of therapy followed by three weeks of rest or vice versa. This period of rest helps prevent side effects because it can give the patient’s body enough time to produce healthy cells to replace the affected cells.