Some patients have some myths about chemotherapy. They tend to associate chemotherapy with the advanced stage of cancers and think the side effects of chemotherapy could kill cancer patients. There are three things you should know to better understand chemotherapy.
Are chemo side effects are always as bad as expected?
Overwhelmed by images of patients who received chemotherapy and suffer serious side effects like hair loss and nausea and vomiting in the TV series and movies, many people presume the horrible side effects chemotherapy would bring.
Thanks to the advanced medical technology, chemotherapy drugs are improved with minor side effects, and most patients can tolerate the chemotherapies without occurring serious hair loss, vomiting and diarrhea.
Moreover, before giving chemotherapy, the doctor will conduct a series of tests, including the patient’s general physical condition, liver and kidney heart function, white blood cells, hemoglobin and platelets, to confirm whether patients can tolerate the side effects of the chemotherapy. During the chemotherapy, the doctor will closely monitor the patient’s indicators, and if patients occur side effects, they will be treated in time by adjusting drug doses or changing treatment regimens.
Is chemotherapy always useful?
Chemotherapy is useful to treat the tumors that are sensitive to chemotherapy. Radical chemotherapy can cure tumors that are highly sensitive to chemotherapy. These types of tumors include Leukemia and lymphoma, chorionic epithelial cancer and germ cell malignant tumors, etc.
For those tumors that are less sensitive to tumors including breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, chemotherapy can be used in combination with other treatment like surgery, radiotherapy and immunotherapy to achieve the best therapeutic effects.
There are still a small group of tumors that are not sensitive to chemotherapy, so chemotherapy can be used to treat them. Some cases include differentiated thyroid cancer, kidney cancer, gastrointestinal stromal tumor, primary liver cancer, etc.
Is chemotherapy only for advanced cancer?
Some people believe that only advanced cancer shall be treated with chemotherapy. This is not true. As mentioned above, some tumors like leukemia and lymphoma only need chemotherapy, no matter in the early or late stage.
For most early-stage tumors, surgery would be used so chemotherapy is not needed. However, tumors are at the middle stage, chemotherapy would be used together with surgery and radiotherapy to improve the cure rate and reduce recurrence and metastasis.
In advanced tumors, cancer cells have already undergone systemic metastasis. Most patients have lost the opportunity to undergo surgery, and they must rely on systemic treatments such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and biological therapy to delay tumor progression, prolong survival and reduce the pain of patients.
In conclusion, chemotherapy is not as bad as imagined, and most patients can tolerate chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is widely used in cancer treatment to prolong survival and improve cure.