Cancer is diagnosed by the presence of a certain groups of cells which divide rapidly and show uncontrolled growth, invasion and also spreading to other parts of the body rapidly. Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment which stops these cells from growing or multiplying. It is also known as chemo for short, it involves taking certain drugs for cancer treatment.
The drugs involved in chemotherapy are taken before or after a cancer surgery. The surgery includes going through x-ray radiations for the removal of these cancer cells. For some patients, only chemotherapy is given.
Cancer, as described earlier, is a group of cells that divide and grow uncontrollably. There are many types of cancer that affect various parts of the body and in different ways. But the most common trait of these abnormal cells is that they grow out of control. Cancer treatment consists of different types of drugs. These drugs go through the whole body and kill only the cells which are growing rapidly. Mostly, more than one drug is used for cancer treatment. This treatment is called combination chemotherapy. Hence, the different drugs help in removal of more cancer cells.
Chemotherapy can be given in one of the three way listed below:
- The drugs you take for cancer treatment might be in the form of pill or liquid. If this is the case, you can take this treatment at home with the help of doctor’s directions.
- Another method of delivering drugs to the body is an injection. These chemo shots could be given to you in the doctor’s clinic, hospital or even at your home.
- Most often, chemo is delivered directly into the veins with the help of a needle or tiny plastic tubes called as catheter. This is known as IV chemo and requires the patient to be admitted in the hospital or clinic, under the doctor’s observation.
The frequency of these cancer treatment drugs could be once a day, once a week or even once a month. This depends on the sort of cancer you are suffering from and also the type of chemotherapy you are taking. The duration of these treatments depend on how your body responds to these drugs.
The cost of chemotherapy depends on various things like the type of drug you are taking, how they are delivered to your body, how often you are taking them and also the duration of these drugs being administered to you. Ask the doctor for ways of paying or if you need help in paying the cost of chemo.
Often doctors do not say that cancer is cured; they use the word ‘remission’, which means there is no sign of cancer. Doctors are hesitant to say that a cancer is cured, as it can come back after a few months. The more time passes by, the less the chances of the cancer recurring in the body. There are two types of remission:
- Complete remission: This means that the cancer cannot be detected by scans, x-rays or blood tests. This would mean that the body has completely responded to the cancer treatment.
- Partial remission: This means that the treatment has killed some of the cells, and the cancer has shrunk but can be still detected on scans, but is not appearing to grow. The treatment could have stopped the cancer cells from growing or made it smaller so that other therapies might be more helpful.
by Alina Kapur