Chemotherapy: Procedure, Types, and How do they work
Chemotherapy is a type of pharmacological treatment that eliminates rapidly dividing cells in the body by employing the use of potent chemicals. It is the type of treatment that is most commonly used to treat cancer. This is due to the fact that cancer cells grow and proliferate significantly more quickly than the majority of the cells in the body.
There is a wide variety of chemotherapy medications available. To treat a wide variety of malignancies, chemotherapy medications may be administered singly or in combination with one another.
Chemotherapy may be a successful method for treating many forms of cancer; nevertheless, chemotherapy treatment is not without the possibility of producing adverse consequences in some patients. Some of the adverse effects of chemotherapy are very minor and easily managed, while others might lead to more severe consequences.
What role does chemotherapy play in the treatment of cancer?
Chemotherapy is a type of drug that is given systemically. This indicates that it makes its way through the circulatory system and reaches every region of the body.
There are a great number of distinct types of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy medications are often potent substances that combat cancer by killing cancer cells while they are in certain phases of the cell cycle. The cell cycle is the process by which all cells replicate themselves to produce new cells.
Chemotherapy is more effective against rapidly dividing cells, such as cancer cells, because cancer cells go through this process more quickly than normal cells do. Due to the fact that chemotherapy is distributed throughout the body, it is possible for it to cause damage to healthy cells while they are going through their normal cell cycle. Because of this, chemotherapy can have adverse effects on patients, including nausea and hair loss.
When a new cell is made, it goes through a standard process to become a fully working cell. The cell cycle is the name for the series of steps that make up the process. The same thing happens to cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs kill cells by going after them at different times in the cell cycle.
Chemotherapy is called "cytotoxic" when it kills cancer cells. Chemotherapy uses drugs that can move around the body and find cancer cells that have spread away from the place where the tumour started.
Different chemo drugs work in different ways on cancer cells. Because normal, healthy cells don't grow as fast as cancer cells do, chemotherapy drugs work better on cancer cells than on healthy cells. Chemotherapy drugs, though, can also hurt healthy cells, which can cause serious side effects.
Types of Chemotherapy Used to Treat Cancer
There are numerous types of chemotherapeutic medications used to treat cancer. Patients frequently receive multiple types of chemotherapy drugs. These medications vary greatly in their chemical composition, how they are prescribed and administered, their efficacy in treating particular types of cancer, and their potential side effects.
There are more than 100 different kinds of drugs used in chemotherapy. These are the main ones:
Alkylating agents: These drugs hurt the DNA of cells, which stops them from making copies of themselves. All parts of the cell cycle are affected by these drugs. Antimetabolites also stop cancer cells from making more cancer cells. They do this by taking the place of the building blocks that RNA and DNA usually are.
Anti-tumour antibiotics: This kind of drug changes the DNA inside cancer cells so they can't grow and make more cancer cells.
Topoisomerase inhibitors: The enzyme topoisomerase is needed for DNA in the body to copy itself. Topoisomerase inhibitors stop this process, causing cancer cells to die.
Mitotic inhibitors: Cell division, also called mitosis, is a key step in the growth of cancer in the body. Inhibitors of mitosis stop this from happening.
DNA repair enzyme inhibitors: If a cancer cell gets damaged physically, a DNA repair enzyme, which is a type of protein, will try to fix the damage. Inhibitors of DNA repair enzymes stop this from happening, which kills cancer cells. Plant alkaloids are substances that come from plants and stop cancer cells from dividing, which stops cancer from spreading and growing.
Antineoplastics: This type of chemotherapy drug is made to target and kill cancer cells.
What are the objectives of chemotherapy?
The objectives of chemotherapy depend on the type and extent of the patient's cancer. Chemotherapy may be administered alone or as part of an interdisciplinary treatment approach. Some of the applications of chemotherapy include:
As the primary approach. Sometimes, the objective of chemotherapy treatment is to eradicate all cancer cells and prevent their return. This may be referred to as "curative chemotherapy."
Prior to other therapies. To decrease tumours, chemotherapy might be administered prior to surgery or radiation therapy. This is known as "preoperative chemotherapy."
Following other therapies. After surgery or radiation therapy, chemotherapy can be used to eliminate any leftover cancer cells. The term for this is "adjuvant chemotherapy."
To reduce cancer's progression and alleviate its symptoms. Even when cancer cannot be cured, chemotherapy can shrink tumours and inhibit their growth and spread for a variety of time periods. Chemotherapy can lengthen survival, alleviate cancer-related symptoms, and improve quality of life in such circumstances. This type of chemotherapy is commonly referred to as "palliative chemotherapy."
Multiple forms of malignancies can be treated with chemotherapy. Additionally, it can be utilised to treat recurring and metastatic cancer. Recurrent cancer refers to cancer that returns following treatment. Cancer that has spread to other places of the body is metastatic cancer.
During my first chemotherapy session, what should I anticipate?
After chemotherapy, it's common to feel sick to your stomach and throw up. Constipation and diarrhoea are possible gastrointestinal side effects of chemotherapy. Dry, achy mouth: Chemotherapy can sometimes have unpleasant side effects on the oral cavity.
If I continue to receive chemotherapy, will the adverse effects become more severe?
It is generally true that chemotherapy-related pain improves or disappears in the time between treatments. It's important to note that repeated doses frequently exacerbate nerve damage. Sometimes it's necessary to quit taking the drug altogether because it's the one responsible for the nerve damage. Nerve damage caused by chemotherapy often improves slowly over the course of months or even years.
Does chemotherapy affect your ability to sleep?
Patients using chemotherapy medicines frequently report feeling sleepy and drowsy during the day. Therefore, individuals on chemotherapy can wind up napping or sleeping throughout the day and that leads to problematic sleeping at night or during the night.