Chemotherapy (Drug Therapy For Cancer)
WHAT IS CHEMOTHERAPY USED FOR?
Chemotherapy medicines are most often used slow or stop the growth of cancer cells.
The goals of chemotherapy are:
· To cure the cancer. The chemotherapy is given to kill the cancer cells, but it may also cause some harmful side effects.
· To control the cancer. This is done by keeping the cancer from spreading, slowing the cancer’s growth, and killing cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body.
· To relieve symptoms from the cancer. Relieving symptoms such as pain can help people who have cancer to live more comfortably. Controlling the size of the cancer can prevent problems or symptoms caused by pressure from the tumor on nearby organs.
Chemotherapy may be used alone or with other treatments, such as surgery or radiation. The treatment depends on what type of cancer you have, where it is located, and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. The medicine may be given by mouth or by shot/injection, or it may be put in a vein (IV, or intravenous).
HOW DOES IT WORK?
There are many chemotherapy drugs. There are 3 main categories:
· Antimitotic drugs stop cancer cell growth by stopping cells from dividing into more cells. There are many ways to do this, so there are many different kinds of these drugs.
· Some natural hormones help cancers grow. The female hormone estrogen makes some breast cancers grow. The male hormone testosterone makes some prostate cancers grow.
· Hormone inhibitors may be used to stop these natural hormones from helping the cancer grow. Hormones, such as Prednisone, are used to treat some tumors or their side effects.
· Biological therapy is the name for a group of cancer drugs that help the immune system fight cancer. This type of therapy is also called immunotherapy.
WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS MEDICINE?
· Your provider will tell you how often you need to get your treatment and how long you will need to be on the medicine. Follow your provider’s directions, including information about food or alcohol. Make sure you know how and when to take your medicine. Do not take more or less than you are supposed to take.
· Many medicines have side effects. A side effect is a symptom or problem that is caused by the medicine. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist what side effects the medicine may cause and what you should do if you have side effects.
· Try to get all of your prescriptions filled at the same place. Your pharmacist can help make sure that all of your medicines are safe to take together.
· Keep a list of your medicines with you. List all of the prescription medicines, nonprescription medicines, supplements, natural remedies, and vitamins that you take. Tell all healthcare providers who treat you about all of the products you are taking.
· Your healthcare provider may suggest that you take part in a clinical trial. Clinical trials are studies done to test new treatments, new medicines, and new combinations of medicines. Ask your provider where the closest clinical trials are and how you can learn more about them. Making an appointment to learn about a clinical trial does not mean you have to take part in the trial. After you learn about the study, you can decide if you want to join it. If you have any questions, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information. Be sure to keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.