|Chemotherapy is the use
of chemicals to treat cancer. Usually more than one chemical is used and treatment is
cyclical over a period of time to correspond with the cycle of cell division.
The chemicals kill fast-growing cells
including hair, bone marrow, digestive tract, and others and it is in these areas that
side effects usually occur.
Side effects of chemotherapy can
range from mild to extreme.
Almost everyone undergoing
chemotherapy has some hair loss. Some may choose to wear wigs or other headcoverings
during treatment, but if youre comfortable without hair thats OK, too!
Many people experience nausea,
fatigue, sleeplessness, periods of hyperactivity, irritability, and/or depression. If the
symptoms interfere with your quality of life alert your medical team. They can help.
Premenopausal women may experience
premature menopause symptoms as a side effect. Talk with your oncologist and your OB/GYN.
immune system is dependent on your bone marrow cells and they will be affected by
chemotherapy. Your immune system will be depressed during and after chemotherapy and you
should take prudent precautions.
may find themselves particularly susceptible to vaginal and urinary tract infections
during chemotherapy. Talk with your doctor about prophylactic medications. Read about sex and cancer.
Chemotherapy is usually administered
in a doctors office or clinic. The most common method is through an IV, however,
long-term chemotherapy sometimes requires the insertion of a "port" or
"heplock" which remains in your body for the duration of your treatments.
Chemotherapy is a fast moving field
of medical treatment. You should feel comfortable talking with your oncologist about any new
developments, medicines, or clinical trials. Also read about financial assistance.
Chemosensitive testing (also known as
Cell Culture Drug Resistance Testing - CCDRT or In Vitro Drug Sensitivity
Testing for Patients with Cancer - DST) is a fairly new procedure whereby a piece of
the patient's tumor is surgically removed, sent to a special laboratory and then exposed
to different chemotherapy drugs to determine which type of chemotherapy will be most
effective. The procedure is not without controversy.
Study the list of questions to ask about chemotherapy.
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