Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill or slow down the growth of cancer cells. There are different types of chemotherapy drugs, and they work in different ways to target cancer cells.
Here are some of the types of chemotherapy:
- Neoadjuvant chemotherapy: This type of chemotherapy is given before surgery or radiation therapy. It is recommended when the tumor is too large to be removed surgically, or the location of the tumor makes it difficult to operate. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy drugs are used to shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove. This treatment can also help reduce the risk of cancer recurrence after surgery or radiation therapy.
- Adjuvant chemotherapy: Adjuvant chemotherapy is given after surgery or radiation therapy. The purpose of this treatment is to kill any cancer cells that may have been left behind after surgery or radiation therapy. Even though imaging tests may show no remaining cancer cells, adjuvant chemotherapy is given as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. Adjuvant chemotherapy can also be used to treat cancer that has spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs.
- Palliative chemotherapy: This type of chemotherapy is given to relieve the symptoms of cancer and improve the quality of life for patients. Palliative chemotherapy is often used for advanced cancer that cannot be cured. The aim is to control the growth of cancer cells, relieve pain and other symptoms, and improve the patient's overall well-being. This treatment can also prolong the patient's life by slowing down the progression of the cancer.
It is important to note that the type of chemotherapy recommended for a patient depends on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the patient's overall health and medical history. The treatment plan is determined by a medical oncologist who works closely with other specialists to provide the best possible care for each patient.
Here are some common side effects of chemotherapy:
- Hair loss: Chemotherapy drugs can cause hair loss or thinning, which may be temporary or permanent depending on the drug and dosage used.
- Vomiting or nausea: Chemotherapy can cause nausea and vomiting, which can be managed with medications.
- Anaemia: Chemotherapy can decrease the number of red blood cells in the body, leading to anaemia, which can cause fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
- Fatigue: Chemotherapy can cause extreme tiredness, which can make it difficult for patients to carry out daily activities.
- Diarrhoea: Chemotherapy drugs can irritate the lining of the intestines, leading to diarrhoea.
- Mouth sores: Chemotherapy can cause mouth sores, which can be painful and make it difficult to eat and drink.
- Low platelet count: Chemotherapy can decrease the number of platelets in the blood, which can lead to bleeding or bruising easily.
It is important to note that not all patients will experience all of these side effects, and some may experience different or more severe side effects. Patients should discuss any side effects with their medical oncologist, who can help manage them and adjust the treatment plan if necessary.