Chemotherapy involves using drugs for the treatment of cancer. These drugs destroy cancer cells by entirely stopping or slowing down their growth. Chemotherapy is generally used to treat recurrent cancers (cancer cells re-emerging after the treatment) or metastatic cancers (cancer cells that spread to other parts of the body). Chemotherapy drugs are administered orally, intravenously, injected directly into the fluid surrounding the brain or the abdominal cavity.
There are three types of chemotherapy.
- Neo adjuvant chemotherapy that is delivered before the surgical or radiation procedures. It is recommended when the tumours are too big to be operated or when the location of the tumour is difficult to operate. The drugs used in Neo adjuvant chemotherapy reduce the size of the tumour to enable surgery.
- Adjuvant chemotherapy that is delivered after the surgical or radiation procedures. It is recommended to clean up any remaining cancer cells that are not visible in the imaging tests. This treatment helps to reduce the chances of recurrence of cancer.
- Palliative Chemotherapy is recommended to manage the symptoms of cancer.
Side-effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy drugs also tend to destroy the rapidly dividing healthy cells that are present in the intestines, mouth, etc., which results in some side effects. The side effects of chemotherapy drugs generally disappear after the treatment. Some side-effects of chemotherapy include
- Hair loss
- Vomiting or nausea
- Mouth sores
- Low platelet count