Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. These drugs can be administered orally, through injection, or infusion into a vein. The drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells throughout the body, making it a systemic treatment.
Chemotherapy works by attacking rapidly dividing cancer cells. The drugs disrupt the cell division process, preventing cancer cells from growing and multiplying. However, since chemotherapy drugs can also affect normal, healthy cells that divide rapidly, such as those in the hair follicles, mouth, and digestive tract, patients may experience side effects such as hair loss, nausea, and diarrhea.
There are different types of chemotherapy drugs, each of which works in a slightly different way. Some
drugs target specific proteins or enzymes that cancer cells need to grow and divide, while others
interfere with the DNA or RNA that controls cell division.
Chemotherapy can be used as the primary treatment for some types of cancer, such as leukemia and lymphoma, or in combination with other treatments, such as surgery and radiation therapy, for other types of cancer. The specific combination and duration of treatment depend on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the overall health of the patient.
Chemotherapy is typically given in cycles, with a period of treatment followed by a period of rest to allow the body to recover. The number of cycles and the length of each cycle depend on the specific treatment plan.
While chemotherapy can be effective in treating cancer, it does have some limitations. Since the drugs target rapidly dividing cells, they may not be effective against slow-growing or dormant cancer cells. In addition, some cancer cells may become resistant to chemotherapy over time, making it less effective.
Overall, chemotherapy is an important tool in the fight against cancer. While it can be associated with side effects, many patients are able to tolerate treatment and achieve remission or even cure. Patients should work closely with their healthcare team to determine the best treatment plan for their specific situation.