Chemotherapy is a crucial treatment modality designed to combat cancer by using drugs to either destroy or inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.

  • Primary Goals of Treatment:
    1. Achieve full recovery and thwart recurrence.
    2. Manage disease progression by minimising tumour size or halting growth and metastasis.
    3. Enhance quality of life by mitigating symptoms in patients with metastatic cancer.
  • Side Effects Insight: Chemotherapy isn't solely selective for cancer cells. Hence, it also affects healthy body cells leading to side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakened immunity, mouth sores, and digestive disturbances. The severity varies based on drug type, patient health, and emotional preparedness.

How is Chemotherapy Administered?

  • Oral: Not all chemotherapy drugs can be orally consumed due to absorption inefficiencies or potential digestive irritations.
  • Intravenous (IV): The most preferred route, ensuring rapid drug dispersion throughout the body.
  • Intramuscular: Rarely used as it might harm skin and muscle tissue.

The drug delivery methodology can be a mix of the above, spanning a single day to multiple days, weekly. The ultimate regimen is determined by the oncologist, based on the cancer type and patient health.

Treatment Duration for Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is typically given cyclically – one to five days per cycle, with each cycle spaced three to four weeks apart. Patients typically undergo six to eight cycles, but this can vary based on the oncologist's strategy. Punctuality in appointments amplifies treatment efficacy.

Preparation for Chemotherapy

  • Dietary Essentials: Consume a balanced diet encompassing all five food groups.
  • Rest: Ensure adequate sleep and indulge in short naps.
  • Medical History: Keep your doctor informed about ongoing medications and existing conditions.
  • Emotional Readiness: Cultivate a positive mindset, and manage stress.

Self-care During Chemotherapy

  • Skin Vigilance: Monitor the injection site for redness, swelling, or pain. If issues arise, notify your nurse.
  • Hydration: Drink ample water to help expel the drugs.
  • Symptom Reporting: Should you experience nausea or vomiting, alert the medical staff.

Choosing the Right Chemotherapy Drugs

Selecting the appropriate chemotherapy is crucial. Administering the correct drug in the right dosage and duration is essential for ensuring treatment effectiveness.

The oncologist takes into account factors such as cancer type, stage, patient health, previous treatments, potential side effects, and drug interactions. In many cases, a combination of drugs proves to be more powerful than a single approach.