Big Bad Cancer and Chemotherapy

chemotherapy

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The medical field has taken giant leaps into the treatment of several seemingly incurable diseases and yet one monster refuses to go away – cancer. It is the second leading cause of death in the world today.

What is Cancer?

People often assume that cancer is a single disease when in reality is a group of diseases. But what is common in all these diseases is that some cells in the body continue to keep dividing without restraint resulting in the growth of abnormal tumors.  These tumors can appear anywhere in the body. Sometimes these rapidly dividing cells break off from their original site and travel elsewhere in the body and that is how cancer spreads. Early detection increases the chances of a cure but sometimes cancer can be a silent killer and the disease is too advanced and it is too late to save a loved one.

How is cancer treated?

Almost every cell in the human body can turn cancerous and every organ reacts differently to this disease. Hence, there is no set treatment procedure; based on the individual condition and the stage of cancer your doctor will decide the course of treatment and there are three types of treatments used to kill cancer cells:

  1. Surgery: The objective is to eradicate the cells completely and that is possible only through surgery.
  2. A secondary line of treatment: To ensure that all cancer-causing cells have been killed a patient is subject to chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. This is to ensure that cancer does not recur.
  3. Palliative treatment: Cancer is extremely painful and one has to deal with the side effects of the disease and the surgery itself. Pain medication is prescribed in some cases to relieve the symptoms.

 

Chemotherapy and cancer

Sometimes when the first line of treatment fails doctors turn to chemo which is nothing but the use of medicines to kill the cancer cells. While the basic concept is very simple, chemotherapy often is not very pleasant as many individuals have side effects ranging from vomiting, nausea, fatigue, hair loss and burning pain in extremities.

 

Why is Chemotherapy used?

Not all cancers need surgery; some of them can be treated with drugs or chemotherapy. The main purpose of chemo is to shrink the tumors and to prevent the spread of the disease. It is also used as an adjuvant treatment to support surgery. The length of the chemo is dependent on the type of cancer, the stage of the disease, the individual body’s response and the main goal of the treatment. Usually, the treatment is given in cycles of 4 weeks.

 

How to manage the side effects of chemo?

The right diet can help you reduce the side effects of chemo. Patients should ensure that they include protein-rich diet as and when they feel hunger because during chemo appetite fluctuates. Increase the intake of liquids in the form of soups, juices, and milk. Eat small meals at frequent intervals to dissipate the feeling of nausea and reduce vomiting.

The fight against cancer is arduous but you can beat it with the right frame of mind and right treatment.

Author: Alfredo Howard