Chemotherapy is usually a course of treatment, which takes an average of three to six months. It can be used one or more cytotoxic agents that enter the body, in most cases in the form of tablets or capsules, or as an intravenous infusion.

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How is chemotherapy for cancer - the duration?

How is chemotherapy for cancerChemotherapy consists of four to eight cycles. Cycle - this time from one treatment to another. After each course, there is a break, needed to restore the body. If the cycle lasts for 4 weeks, the treatment may take 1,2 or 3 days, followed by a rest and treatment resumed.

Depending on the drug, or combinations thereof, the treatment may last from nesolkih hours to several days. Therapy can spend every week or every 2,3 or 4 weeks. As undergoing chemotherapy - its frequency depends on the preparations and treatment plan.

If you receive chemotherapy via an infusion pump, medication is planned:

  • All the time in a few months (continuous maintenance).
  • For a few days each month.
  • For a number of weeks.

Before each cycle of treatment, the doctor checks the condition of the patient, how he deals with the side effects of chemotherapy. After several studies the effectiveness of treatment cycles. In some cases, a change in the treatment plan. This may be a temporary stop until the next course, dose reduction or change of the method of treatment.

How is chemotherapy for cancer - why the loop?

Treatment is offered on the basis of years of research. Combinations of drugs that are recommended by doctors, are the best of the tested. Drug task - to destroy the malignant cells, causing minimum damage to healthy cells. A patient undergoing chemotherapy for a few months:

  • This allows cytostatic agents to destroy the maximum number of cancer cells.
  • Rest between sets allows the body to recover from the side effects.

At one particular point in time the abnormal cells can relax. Chemotherapy damages only those cells that are in the process of division. Therefore, the cells in the quiescent state will not be destroyed. For this reason, some of the cells that are not shared during the first chemotherapy approach may be destroyed during the second cycle of treatment, etc. Healthy cells are recovered after chemotherapy significantly better than cancer, so the treatment should be gradual, without causing permanent inhibition of healthy tissues and cells.

What influences the choice of treatment?

Chemotherapy detailed plan is based on the following factors: the type of cancer, its location in the body, the presence or absence of metastasis. Also, the doctor takes into account the overall health of the patient, his age. Some drugs may have more effect on the body than others. The doctor assesses the health status prior to treatment, the patient will be able to cope with the adverse effects of therapy.

The frequency and duration of cycles of chemotherapy are also due to many factors: the type of cancer, cytostatic agents used, the reaction of cancer cells on medication, any side effects.

Preparing for Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is preceded by blood tests, X-ray examination or scanning. They give your doctor information about the need for treatment. These results will then be compared with the results of the following tests to evaluate the glamor treatment. When determining medication doses measured height and weight, ie, dose is set based on the Body Mass Index.

Chemotherapy can lead to bone marrow suppression. Therefore, before starting treatment you must take a blood test to check levels of various blood cells.

Preparing for Chemotherapy - tests to check lung condition

Some chemotherapy drugs can have an impact on lung health. If you plan to use one of these medicines, your doctor will diagnose before starting therapy. Using lung function tests will be examined lung function, the volume bodies.

Preparing for Chemotherapy - heart diagnosis

Specific cytostatic agents can damage the heart muscle, which will change the rhythm of the heart. For most people, the condition is completely normal after treatment. But if you plan to use this drug, doctors will diagnose a heart condition before treatment.

Assigned electrocardiogram (ECG), creating a recording of electrical activity of the heart and estimating body work. It may also be performed ultrasound of the heart - echocardiography. This test evaluates the force with which the heart pumps blood.

Preparing for Chemotherapy - liver diagnostics

Certain chemotherapy drugs can damage the liver. Therefore, doctors prescribe blood tests to check the operation of the body. Many drugs are broken down in the liver, for this reason, it should work well to bring the chemotherapy drugs from the body.

Tests to verify the state of kidneys

Cytotoxic agents may disrupt the kidneys. Therefore, the patient is prescribed blood tests or urine tests to check the status of these bodies. The kidneys also help to get rid of chemotherapy, therefore, must function well.

Preparing for Chemotherapy - tests for HIV and hepatitis

The blood is tested for HIV and hepatitis. The patient signs a consent form to conduct these tests.

Preparing for Chemotherapy - Other tests

It will probably require other types of surveys. It depends on the type of planned chemotherapy and the side effects that may occur. For example, if the drug can affect the ear, hearing will be held before the diagnosis of treatment (audiogram).

If the patient is taking warfarin to prevent blood clots, may need more tests to make sure the correct dose of the drug. If steroids are prescribed as part of a chemotherapy patient with diabetes, it is necessary to carefully control their blood sugar.

If you have time before chemotherapy, the doctor will suggest to turn to the dentist. During the cytostatic treatment of dental care is very difficult, because people will be exposed to a high risk of infection.

Storing sperm

If the patient - a man, it is recommended to preserve sperm before chemotherapy, since there is a high probability of infertility.

How is chemotherapy for cancer - the preparatory stage

When visiting the hospital the first thing that will need to do - take a blood test. Prior to treatment have a day or two. A nurse who specializes in chemotherapy, checks the level of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets before treatment. If the level of red blood cells is too low, you need a blood transfusion. Insufficient number of white blood cells or platelets, and treatment can lead to life threatening.

Also, blood tests can be assigned to investigate the kidneys and liver. If their operation does not correspond to a normal level, the patient will experience more side effects.

After taking the blood is necessary for some time to produce results. If all goes well, it will be possible to begin treatment. For each patient, specially prepared chemotherapy drugs. Sometimes it is possible earlier blood tests in order to reduce waiting time.

If blood counts are too low, treatment is delayed. When tests for checking the status of the liver and kidney show the changes may be changed dose chemotherapy. Sometimes patients are offered other treatment, but this is rare.

How is undergoing chemotherapy - a change of plan

Throughout the treatment the patient is losing blood tests that check:

  • The level of white blood cells.
  • The number of erythrocytes and platelets.
  • The kidneys and liver.

The doctor examines the effects of chemotherapy with the help of blood tests before each cycle of treatment. Basically it is necessary to check the white blood cells, but also investigates the number of other blood cells. Performed blood tests that examine the impact of treatment on the liver and kidneys. This is more important when using certain chemotherapy drugs.

The intervals between chemotherapy

If the levels of blood cells is too low, treatment is delayed until the condition returns to normal. It does not make chemotherapy less effective. But if this happens too often, or, for example, the kidneys are exposed, require lower doses of chemotherapy. It is important not to take it as a step backwards. Some people are more sensitive to chemotherapy than others. Given this fact, the dose is corrected preparations.

Personal reasons

Planning treatment your doctor will include the possibility of the patient. For example, to organize the chemotherapy needed vacation.

It will shrink cancer?

Some people find it very difficult to positively evaluate the results of treatment, if there is no evidence that it works. Sometimes nothing can be done with this fact. For example, if assigned to chemotherapy after surgery, you can not see any results. The task of therapy - to destroy any remaining after surgery, cancer cells that are too small to be seen with.

But if the tumor can be visualized by scanning, the doctor will check to see whether the expected, treatment affects. At least once during the course of chemotherapy will be assigned:

  • X-ray examination.
  • Scanning - mostly after 3 cycles of chemotherapy is performed.
  • Blood tests, which check the levels of chemicals (markers) produced by some tumors.

The results of these tests show whether decreased tumor during treatment. If there are no changes, your doctor may change the chemotherapy plan completely. Various drugs or other type of treatment in general can give the best result.

The behavior of various types of tumors is different, they respond differently to treatment. If the doctor does not recommend scanning in the middle of chemotherapy, this may be due to the fact that the results so far will not be noticeable. It would be better to wait until the treatment is complete, and then investigate.

Side effects of chemotherapy

There are over 100 different chemotherapeutic agents. They cause various undesirable effects. The doctor or nurse will advise about the specific side effects of chemotherapy treatment can give written information.

It is important to know that the patient will not experience all of the side effects listed in the list. Some people have minor unwanted effects.

Sometimes, the negative effects can be very unpleasant, this time can help the following information:

  • Most side effects are short term.
  • They will start to leave as soon as the treatment is completed.
  • Doctors have successfully used various medications and techniques to reduce most of the side effects. It is important to be sure to inform the doctor, as it can always provide the necessary assistance.

What are the side effects of chemotherapy is?

Chemotherapy affects dividing cells. Cancer cells divide much more frequently than healthy. Therefore, this treatment damages and destroys them.

But some types of healthy cells and often divided. This occurs in tissues that are in need of constant renewal - for example, the skin, hair and nails. Chemotherapy damages them. However, damage to healthy cells are able to recover on their own.

As well as hair and skin, chemotherapy influences and some other areas of the body - the mouth and the mucous membrane of the digestive system. In addition, having an impact on the bone marrow, which produces new blood cells.


Chemotherapy is able to make a person feel very tired. Fatigue increases during treatment and may last for many months after the end of therapy. Also, the patient may feel very weak, experiencing the absence of any energy.

Problems with eating

Many chemotherapy drugs cause nausea. But this symptom is usually easily cope antiemetic drugs.

Some cytostatics damage the oral cavity, causing the formation of small ulcers. Other drugs can temporarily change the taste.

Chemotherapy drugs can irritate the intestinal mucosa and cause diarrhea. This usually happens in the first few days after starting treatment. These symptoms can be easily controlled with medication. Some medications that eliminate nausea, cause constipation.

Chemotherapy can affect appetite. It is not necessary to worry especially if there is no sense of taste for several days after treatment. It is important to drink enough fluids, you can make up for the lost calories later. The doctor or nurse will answer all the questions that you need and do not need to eat.

If there are problems with digestion, diet or weight loss, you must talk to your doctor or nutritionist.

blood cells

Chemotherapy drugs often inhibit the bone marrow, it stops producing enough blood cells. Bone marrow produces:

  1. White blood cells to fight infection.
  2. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body.
  3. Platelets, which help blood to clot and prevent bleeding.

During chemotherapy, the level of blood cells is reduced. If the white blood cell count is low, the patient is at greater risk of infection, which are sometimes very serious. It is important to promptly inform physicians if there is the following signs of infection:

  • Heat.
  • Cold and chills.
  • Headache.
  • Pain in the muscles.
  • Cough.
  • A sore throat.
  • Pain when urinating.
  • Low temperature.

It can be vaccinated against influenza. If the patient is in the middle of treatment, you should talk to your doctor about the best time to be vaccinated. The immune system is weakened during chemotherapy, which means - the vaccine may not work properly.

If red blood cells are reduced, people will feel fatigue and shortness of breath. With the shortage of platelets appear easy bruising, bleeding occur. When the doctor deems it necessary, can be carried RBC or platelet transfusion.

Hair, nails and skin

Some chemotherapy drugs can lead to selective loss or hair thinning. Other cytostatic agents are capable of provoking a complete loss of hair on the body. This is temporary and the hair starts to grow back within a few weeks. Doctors instruct and make recommendations on the matter.

Chemotherapy drugs can also make the skin dry and sensitive. Some of them cause a rash. A man may find that the skin became hue, as after a sunburn in the sun, or the start to react to chemical substances. At this time, it is important to be careful while under the influence of ultraviolet rays, be sure to use a cream with a sun protection factor of not less than 15. If the skin is dry, you should avoid swimming at this time. For some people, there are changes on the nails - they become dry, brittle, ribbed, they appear white lines.

Nerve endings

Some chemotherapy drugs can damage nerve endings, especially in the hands and feet. It causes numbness, tingling. Once the treatment is over, usually the state returned to normal, but sometimes the process takes many months.

Specific cytostatic agents affect hearing. After completion of chemotherapy status improves in most cases, but a physician may decrease the dose of medication or change therapy. All side effects need to be sure to put a doctor in popularity.

Kidney, liver, heart and lungs

Chemotherapy drugs can cause changes in the kidney, liver, heart or lung. Typically, these violations are of a temporary nature, the condition improved after treatment. But sometimes the changes become permanent. Doctors necessarily notify the patient, what are the possible side effects of chemotherapy.

Some cytotoxic drugs increase the risk of developing blood clots. If there is shortness of breath or swelling in the leg - you should immediately go to the hospital.

Sex and Fertility

Chemotherapy affects the sexual life. The man constantly feels tired and lose interest in sex. Some chemotherapy drugs affect fertility. If a patient plans to have children, it is very important that you discuss this with your doctor before starting treatment. Steps can be taken to help preserve fertility.

Late side effects of chemotherapy

Most side effects are temporary, they disappear after the completion of therapy. But some people have chemotherapy may cause long-term side effects. They occur after months, or even years, and include - early menopause, infertility, peripheral neuropathy, lung and heart problems. Doctor must inform the patient about the risk of possible late side effects before starting treatment.

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