Chemotherapy: Indications, Preparations, Procedures and Side Effects
Windowofworld.com – Chemotherapy is a treatment procedure that uses chemicals that are very powerful to stop or inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the body. In addition to cancer, chemotherapy is also used for the treatment of bone marrow diseases and disorders of the body’s immune system, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Chemotherapy can be combined with treatment methods, such as hormone therapy, surgery, and radiotherapy. The implementation of this procedure can be done at home by taking oral chemotherapy drugs or through an IV that is done in a hospital under the supervision of a doctor. This choice is determined based on the type of cancer, stage, and patient’s health condition.
Timing of chemotherapy usually can last for several months divided into several sessions. This procedure is a systemic treatment that affects the whole body, so that it can cause various side effects felt by patients after therapy.
Chemotherapy is the main cancer treatment method recommended by doctors because it aims to:
- Inhibiting the spread of cancer.
- Cure cancer as a whole. This chemotherapy is also used postoperative procedures to kill cancer cells that are still left in the body.
- Increase the success of other treatment methods, preoperative or chemotherapy combined with radiotherapy.
- Relieve the symptoms suffered.
The cost of chemotherapy varies, depending on the type and stage of cancer experienced, the drugs used, and the number of therapeutic cycles needed. Costs that also need to be prepared are the costs of treatment due to side effects of chemotherapy, for example infections and other conditions that require hospitalization, or advanced chemotherapy outside the original plan because the cancer has not gone away or is growing back. Ask the hospital or clinic you will be undergoing chemotherapy for the estimated cost so you can prepare it.
The chemotherapy procedure is a treatment carried out for serious conditions. Therefore, careful planning is needed from the patient and the team of implementing doctors. The planning involves considering the type of chemotherapy that will be run, side effects that will appear, and the success rate of chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy planning can be done after the patient undergoes a series of tests (for example blood tests, scans, or X-rays) to find out the patient’s health condition, whether strong enough to undergo chemotherapy or not. Examination of dental infections is also needed because dental infections are at risk of spreading due to the effects of chemotherapy on the body.
After knowing the patient’s condition, the team of doctors can determine the type and duration of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is usually given in a cycle count, which consists of a period of chemotherapy plus a period of rest. For example, chemotherapy for 1 week then followed by a rest period of 3 weeks. The implementation of chemotherapy generally takes several months consisting of several cycles.
One thing to remember is that chemotherapy is not recommended for pregnant women because it can cause a baby or fetus to become deformed. For those who will undergo chemotherapy, it is hoped to use contraception during chemotherapy to avoid pregnancy. The same warning is given for patients taking other medicines, including herbal medicines. The reaction of these drugs to chemotherapy drugs cannot be predicted. Medications that are usually given in chemotherapy include drugs that can inhibit cell division (alkylating agents), drugs that can inhibit the formation of RNA and DNA (antimetabolites), and antitumor antibiotics that change DNA in cancer cells.
Preparation before chemotherapy is done to anticipate the effects caused post-therapy. Some people feel weak and tired after chemotherapy, therefore, you should ask for help from others to deliver and accompany during the implementation of chemotherapy. In addition, patients need to require adequate rest time after chemotherapy. Therefore, assistance is needed in doing work at home or caring for children, at least for one day after chemotherapy.
Although many chemotherapy patients can continue to work during this procedure, working hours should be adjusted according to physical conditions. Arrangement of working hours in accordance with a lighter workload needs to be done in order to anticipate the effects of post-chemotherapy. Talk and plan everything with the doctor, family. or friends who can provide support during the therapy process.
Generally chemotherapy is given intravenously at the hospital through an infusion, although sometimes chemotherapy can also be done orally in tablet form.
In an intravenous chemotherapy procedure, the drug is delivered from a bag of liquid medicine that is connected by a tube to one of the veins. The distribution of the drug fluid can be done through a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) tube that is installed in the vein of the patient’s arm for several weeks or months. The hose is connected to a pump to regulate the amount of drug and the speed of drug delivery.
Similar to the performance of the PICC tube, the delivery of chemotherapy drugs can also be done with a tube inserted into the chest and connected to one of the veins near the heart (central line). In addition, the distribution of drugs can also be done through a cannula tube that is placed temporarily for a short time in a vein on the back of the hand or forearm. It can also be implanted through the port, which is a small instrument that is implanted under the skin during the therapy period. To channel the liquid medicine, a needle is inserted into the device by penetrating the skin.
In addition to intravenous, chemotherapy can be done through the arteries around the location of the cancer (intra-arterial). As for cancer in organs such as the intestine, stomach, liver, ovaries, chemotherapy in the abdominal cavity (intraperitoneal chemotherapy).
Chemotherapy can also be carried out through drug injection, although this is rarely done. Some of these include injection under the surface of the skin (subcutaneous chemotherapy), injection into the muscle (intramuscular chemotherapy), or injection directly into the spine (intrathecal chemotherapy). As for the case of skin cancer, chemotherapy is generally given in the form of a cream.
After the implementation of chemotherapy, the patient’s physical condition will always be monitored by a team of doctors to find out the level of success. Monitoring or monitoring can be in the form of blood tests and regular body scans. In addition, the doctor will also monitor how the side effects are caused after the chemotherapy procedure. Thus, the team of doctors can make adjustments to the implementation of chemotherapy.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy can have unpleasant effects on the body. In addition to killing cancer cells, chemotherapy can also damage other cells in the body, such as hair cells, skin, and the lining of the digestive tract. But not all patients will experience chemotherapy side effects. Some side effects that are usually experienced after the procedure are:
- Throw up.
- The body feels tired or weak.
- Hair loss.
- Reduced appetite.
- Changes to the skin and nails.
- Thrush or sores in the mouth.
- Impaired concentration and memory.
There are also a number of side effects that are usually only felt a few months or years after undergoing chemotherapy. These side effects include the risk of secondary cancer, heart problems, lung tissue damage, kidney disorders, and peripheral nerve disorders (peripheral neuropathy).
Many side effects after chemotherapy can be prevented and treated. Most of these side effects will disappear once chemotherapy is stopped. Nevertheless, medical treatment is needed immediately if the chemotherapy patient experiences the condition:
- Chest pain.
- Muscle ache.
- Bleeding gums and nose.
- Sprue which results in patients not being able to eat or drink.
- Diarrhea up to more than four times a day.
- Vomiting constantly.
- Bleeding from parts of the body that do not stop after trying to stop for 10 minutes.
- Difficulty breathing.