How Chemotherapy Aids Cancer Treatment
Chemotherapy is often paired with cancer as a therapy so it might surprise you that chemo is defined as using any drug to treat a number of different diseases. The focus of chemotherapy as a cancer treatment is to destroy cancerous cells by curing, controlling, and palliative care (or decreasing the side effects) when cancer has metastasized (or spread) from the area of origin to other bodily areas. If a patient’s cancer has metastasized, chemotherapy will often be recommended in addition to other cancer treatments (i.e., immunotherapy, surgery, or radiation).
A chemotherapy treatment plan will take the following into consideration:
1. Specific drugs used in chemotherapy
As mentioned, chemotherapy uses drugs to treat a certain disease, in this case cancer. To decide on the appropriate drug, your doctor will consider these factors:
Type of cancer
Existing health conditions
Past chemo treatments
2. Dosage of chemo medication
Chemotherapy medications can cause a series of unpleasant side effects—including extreme fatigue, anemia, nausea, vomiting, constipation, etc. For this reason, doctors are careful about the dosages applied during chemo treatments. The dosage must be effective to fight cancer yet safe for the patient.
3. Schedule for chemotherapy
Chemo is typically scheduled by cycles, as recommended for the type and stage of cancer. Patients may undergo chemo for several days and then enter a rest period of several days or week in order for healthy cells to recover.
4. Adjusting chemotherapy schedule
Doctors allow for adjustments during the chemo cycle if patients suffer serious, unpleasant side effects. This allows for more recovery time and symptom relief between treatments. If you’re having trouble with chemo side effects, a supportive medication may be recommended.