Understanding Chemotherapy: A Powerful Cancer Treatment with Potential Side Effects

Chemotherapy is a widely used cancer treatment method that employs powerful drugs to target and destroy rapidly dividing cancer cells, helping to control tumour growth and potentially leading to remission. The drugs used in chemotherapy work by targeting dividing cells, which includes cancer cells, but may also affect healthy cells that divide quickly, such as those in the hair follicles and gastrointestinal tract. Chemotherapy can treat various cancers, including but not limited to leukaemia, lymphoma, breast cancer, and lung cancer.

This cancer treatment can be given in different ways, including intravenously (IV), orally, or by injection. How chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer treatment and the patient’s overall health and medical history. Chemotherapy can be given in cycles, which involves a period of therapy followed by a period of rest. The cycle length can vary depending on the drugs used and the patient’s response to treatment. It can also be given as a combination therapy involving two or more drugs to improve treatment effectiveness.

The side effects of chemotherapy can vary from patient to patient and depend on the type and dose of drugs used. Common adverse reactions include nausea and vomiting, fatigue, hair loss, mouth sores, and a weakened immune system. These side effects can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes, such as avoiding certain foods or getting plenty of rest.

Chemotherapy is often used with other cancer treatments, such as surgery or radiation therapy. For example, chemotherapy may be used before surgery to shrink a tumour or kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery. While chemotherapy can be an effective cancer treatment, it has risks. Also, these drugs may cause damage to the heart, kidneys, or other organs.

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