principles of chemotherapyWhat is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy literally means medication, as part of cancer therapy - treatment of tumor cells with cytotoxic drugs. one medicament may be recommended or more. There are more than 100 different products at the moment, continue to develop new cytostatic agents.

How chemotherapy is optimal method for each particular case depends on many factors:

  • the type of cancer;
  • the original location of the tumor;
  • grade;
  • Tumor dissemination process;
  • the state of health in general.

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How is chemotherapy?

This method can be recommended as a single agent or in combination with other therapies

  • radiotherapy;
  • surgery;
  • hormone therapy;
  • targeted therapy;
  • a combination of any of these methods.

Perhaps a high-dose chemotherapy as part of a bone marrow transplant or stem cell.

Basic principles of chemotherapy

This method of treatment destroys the cells when they divide into new cells. body tissue made up of billions of individual cells. After the growth process is completed, the body cells cease to divide and proliferate actively. The fission process is resumed if necessary to eliminate damage. two are from a single cell, then two - four, four - eight, etc.

In cancer cells continue to divide until a large amount has been created, which turns into a tumor. Because cancer cells divide much more frequently, significantly higher likelihood of their destruction by chemotherapy.

Some cytostatics destroy tumor cells by damaging their control center. Other medications interrupt the chemical processes involved in cell division.

Chemotherapy drugs can be ingested in the form of intravenous injection via intravenous, tablets and capsules.

Cytostatic agents, penetrating into the body, covering the entire body through the bloodstream. They are able to catch the cancer cell is almost anywhere in the body. This form of treatment is called systemic.

How does chemotherapy - effect on the organism

Cytotoxic drugs damage the cells in the process of division. At the center of every living cell there is a nucleus that controls it. It comprises a chromosome that consists of genes. These genes must be precisely copied every time a cell divides into two new ones.

Chemotherapy damages genes within the cell nucleus. Some drugs "strike" at the time of division, the other - to create copies of the genes prior to separation. Cells that are at rest - the majority of healthy cells - will not be damaged. The patient may be administered a combination of chemotherapeutic agents that cause damage to the cells at different stages of the fission process. The use of multiple drugs increases the chances of more destruction of tumor cells.

The fact that chemotherapy destroys dividing cells, helps explain the side effects. This treatment has an effect on healthy tissue, which cells are growing and dividing. Examples of such cells - skin, bone marrow, hair follicles, lining of the digestive system.

  • Hair is always growing.
  • Bone marrow constantly produces blood cells.
  • Skin and mucous membrane of the digestive tract is not terminated to date.

Because these fabrics have a continuously dividing cells, they can be damaged by chemotherapy. But healthy cells are replaced with new or restored. Most side effects go at the end of treatment.

Does chemotherapy in cancer and how effective is it?

The probability of cure disease by cytotoxic drugs due to type of cancer:

  • Some types of cancer cure with chemotherapy.
  • In other types of cancer recovers fewer people.

A high probability of recovery after chemotherapy for testicular cancer and Hodgkin's lymphoma.

In other types of cancer cytotoxic drugs only treatment will not lead to complete recovery from the disease. But it will benefit in combination with other therapies. For example, many people with breast cancer or bowel cancer chemotherapy after surgery reduces the risk of relapse.

In other types of malignancies, if the recovery is unlikely, the doctor may suggest chemotherapy:

  • to reduce the size of tumors;
  • relieve symptoms;
  • increase life expectancy by controlling the progression of the disease or helping to achieve remission.

Term remission, doctors use when it comes to cancer. It means that after treatment, there is no sign of cancer. It may be complete or partial remission.

Complete remission assumes no signs of disease after scanning, analyzes of blood and other surveys. Doctors also call a state of complete response.

Partial remission refers to that part of the abnormal cells survived. The tumor decreased, but it can be detected by scanning. The treatment can stop the progression of the disease or reduce tumors.

Physicians use another term - stable disease, where tumor size remained the same or increased slightly.

chemotherapy appointment

Treatment of cytostatic agents is recommended:

  1. To reduce the volume of the tumor before surgery or radiation.
  2. In order to prevent the risk of recurrence after surgery or radiotherapy.
  3. As monotherapy, if the type of cancer is sensitive to this treatment.
  4. To treat metastatic cancer process.

Chemotherapy can be offered before surgery to reduce the magnitude of neoplasms. Thus, a smaller amount will need surgery, the surgeon will be easier to completely remove the malignant process. Acronym tumors by chemotherapy will also mean less volume radiotherapy. This is called neoadjuvant treatment. Sometimes doctors refer to it as the primary treatment.

Chemotherapy may be recommended after surgery or radiation. The main goal - to reduce the risk of the disease returning in the future - adjuvant therapy. Cytotoxic drugs to penetrate into all areas of the body and destroy cancer cells that are disconnected from the primary tumor before surgery.

Sometimes the purpose of chemotherapy is planned at the same time as radiotherapy. The treatment is called chemoradiation. Cytostatics increase effective radiotherapy, but also increase the side effects.

Why chemotherapy can be recommended - especially

Your doctor may suggest chemotherapy if there is a possibility that the disease could spread in the future, or have already metastasized. Chemotherapy is used as it circulates throughout the body via the bloodstream. This is a type of systemic therapy, which helps to destroy the tumor cells anywhere. Surgery and radiation therapy are known as topical treatment, as they have an effect on a certain area.

Sometimes abnormal cells break away from the original focus and invade other parts of the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system. By changing the location, they develop into new tumors - secondary lesions or metastases. Chemotherapy move throughout the body, destroying any cancer cells have extended.

The choice of drugs is due to the type of malignant tumor. various cytostatic agents designed for different types of cancer. Thus, chemotherapy drugs required to treat breast cancer that has spread to the lungs, will differ from the medicines for cancer, which was the initial focus of the lungs.

Why do not prescribe chemotherapy?

Some types of cancer are very sensitive to chemotherapy, while others - not. In the second case, the doctor will not recommend treatment with cytotoxic agents.

In addition to transfer chemotherapy, you must be healthy enough. Some people worry that they are too old, but that's not the age. Older people may have other health problems that can lead to serious or long term side effects. These problems may be a contraindication to chemotherapy. Also, this method can create a strain on organs such as the heart. Therefore, doctors check the state of the heart, lung, kidney and liver before treatment. Assess the benefits and risks of therapy, discuss them with the patient.

Where is chemotherapy?

If the patient is prescribed chemotherapy tablets or capsules, they can be taken home. You should regularly visit the hospital for check-ups and blood tests.

When required constant, low doses of chemotherapy, the patient can use a portable pump. It is set in a hospital, in size it corresponds to a small bottle of water. The pump delivers a constant dose of chemotherapy. You need to visit the hospital every few days to replenish the pump or remove it.

outpatient chemotherapy

Intravenous chemotherapy is carried out in an outpatient. The procedure may last from a few minutes to several hours. Chemotherapy drugs can be administered through the following devices:

  • Cannula - a small tube placed in the hands of the vein.
  • The central catheter placed in a vein in the neck (short term) or chest (long-term).
  • PICC line - view of the central catheter, which is positioned in the arm vein.
  • Portacath - a small device that is implanted subcutaneously in a central vein in the chest area.

In the clinic, you must spend a few hours. Treatment prior to test. Doctors need to see the results to ensure that the therapy is safe for the patient. Furthermore, the solution makes for each patient the pharmacist. The volume is calculated individually, depending on the height, weight and overall health.

It may be necessary reception antiemetics. Typically, during treatment, the patient sits in a chair. If the procedure takes a few hours, a good idea to read the newspaper or a book.

When therapy is required for a few days and do not need hospitalization, you can stay close to the hospital, the hotel, for example.

Chemotherapy in the hospital

In certain cases, treatment of chemotherapy must be a short stay in hospital - for a night or for a few days. This may be due to the following reasons:

  1. The drug should be ingested slowly and under control.
  2. The introduction of several cytostatic agents for a number of hours.
  3. Monitoring is required during treatment to detect response to the medication.

If the assigned high-dose chemotherapy, will need to be hospitalized for a few weeks. This is due to the fact that the treatment is intense and has a lot of unintended consequences. For a number of post-treatment will be a high risk of infection for the patient. It is important to stay in the hospital, in order to reduce this risk.

Common names and trademarks of chemotherapy

Cytotoxic drugs have generic names - common and different brand or trade names.

For example, the original name - paracetamol, brand name - Panadol or kalpol.

Chemotherapy drugs are made by different companies, so they can have several trade names. For some cytostatics trade name is more common, for others - not. Doctors can advise you on this issue.

Names of chemotherapy combinations

Doctors often treat disease by using two or more drugs, sometimes in combination with other drugs - steroids or biological therapy. Names combinations make up of the first letters of names of drugs - used abbreviation. For example:

The combination of MIC

  • M = Mitomycin
  • I = ifosfamide
  • C = cisplatin


  • C = Cyclophosphamide
  • H = doxorubicin
  • = Vincristine (Oncovin)
  • P = prednisone, steroid

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