Many cancer patients are advised to take chemotherapy to control the spread of cancer cells. However, they also cause certain damages to other normal cells in the body. Knowing about the advantages and disadvantages of the therapy will prepare the patient to mentally accept the disadvantages and to recover from the side effects faster.
The chemical agents used for the therapy will kill the cancer cells and reduce the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. The patient will be able to live normally after the chemo treatment. The chemotherapy drugs are available in the form of intravenous injections or as pills. These drugs, when used in combinations, are highly effective in controlling cancer. The patient can be completely cured of cancer with the right type of chemotherapy. Even the smallest cancer cells, which are difficult to detect by tests will be destroyed by chemo drugs. In the case of large tumors, chemotherapy will help to reduce the size of the tumors and this will make surgery less invasive and less time taking. The new chemo drugs are very specific in action and are more effective.
As there are different types of drugs used for chemotherapy the side effects experienced by the patients may vary from person to person. There will be emotional and physical changes during or after chemotherapy. Your body will be more prone to infections. The symptoms of side effects will start within 24- 48 hours after the exposure to the chemo drugs. The disadvantage of this treatment is that the chemo drugs can damage sensitive cells like cells inside the mouth and digestive system, the bone marrow cells and hair follicles, as a result, the person will experience nausea, weight loss, memory loss, hair loss, etc. The exposure to these drugs can also cause fertility problems in men and women.
Most of the damaged cells will return to normalcy after the chemotherapy. There are medications available to reduce the side effects.
Have you and your doctor decided that chemotherapy is the best solution that you have to treat your health problems? Are you still worried about what you would be going through during the chemotherapy treatment? Well, it is normal for anyone to be worried about what to expect during a chemo treatment and also to know how it will affect your daily life and routine. This is why you need to talk to your doctor as well as the oncology nurse and the oncologist to get all the information that you need about the chemo treatment before starting it. This will help you to cooperate with the treatment better.
Interact with the medical team
Before you start the chemotherapy treatment, it is advisable that you get in touch with the team who will be taking care of you and administering the treatment on you. The medical oncologist is the doctor who will work other team members to develop a treatment plan for you according to the condition you are in at the present. The oncologist will treat your cancer with the right medication. He or she will be in-charge of the chemo treatment given to you. To assist the doctor, there will be an oncology nurse. They will be taking care of the patient during the chemo treatment and will be giving you the chemotherapy. He or she will be answering all your questions about the treatment and also guide you through the chemo process. The nurse will be having a track of your progress during the treatment. They will also have a close eye on any side effects that you might be feeling during the chemotherapy.
Meeting with the oncology doctor
You will need to meet the medical oncologist before you start the treatment. If your family doctor or any other physician has referred you to an oncologist, then he or she will have to go through your medical records to understand your situation. The doctor will also be carrying out a physical examination and will also conduct certain tests in order to plan the right treatment for your case. The treatment will depend on the type, size and the location of the cancer, the general health, your age, and certain other factors.
The chemo treatment
The chemotherapy is given as repeated cycles and the duration of the cycle will depend on the type of condition the patient is in and the chemo treatment that is given. Normally, the chemo cycles range from 2 to 6 weeks. The treatment doses that will be administered on the patents will vary according to the drugs that are given to the patients. A cycle might contain just one dose of medication on the first day or it might involve more than one dose administered daily or once in a week. The normal scenario is that there will be a re-evaluation of your case and tests will be done to see how the treatment is done after a couple of cycles. The chemo treatment cycles will continue if the chemotherapy is showing good results.
Those who undergo chemotherapy usually experience certain physical and emotional changes. The side effects that someone would experience from chemotherapy drugs would be different as the drugs used in different cancer treatments are diverse. However, unknown to many people, the management of the side effects has also advanced as the chemotherapy treatments have evolved over the years.
It is to be remembered that the way you feel after such sessions has no correlation to the effects of the benefits that chemotherapy sessions have on your cancer treatment process. Usually, the side effects come on about 24 to 48 hours after a treatment session has been taken. Most doctors or oncologists are concerned about the effects of chemotherapy sessions that patients feel and wish to ensure that the pain or discomfort is minimal as compared to the real benefits of making cancer go into remission mode.
Patients are asked to look after their general health requirements and get any pending care done before undergoing chemotherapy. For instance, if one needs their teeth to be cleaned, they need to get this done before going in for chemotherapy. It is also important that you have the support of your friends and family members. They need to recognize the impact that cancer has on you as well as the challenges of chemotherapy.
The common side effects include fever and chances of infection. As the white blood cell count is lowered by chemotherapy, your body’s natural immunity levels go down; the neutrophil count goes down in particular and this needs to be monitored. Only when this is up at optimal levels is the next chemotherapy session scheduled. Often patients suffer slight fever that might be accompanied by chills. As your body remains susceptible to bacterial infection from seven to 12 days after you undergo a session, you need to take proper precautions in terms of exposing yourself to bacterial infection or chances of such occurrences.