Cancer treatment: Things you didn’t know about chemotherapy | Health

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By Mahtab Ahmad

Chemotherapy is a generic word and is used to denote any drug which kills or damages cancer cells, leading to better cancer control. However, there are some common concerns people have about chemotherapy and understanding these points can help ease any anxieties you may have about the process.

Cancer treatment: Things you didn't know about chemotherapy (Photo by Thirdman on Pexels)
Cancer treatment: Things you didn’t know about chemotherapy (Photo by Thirdman on Pexels)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Ashish Gupta, American board-certified Medical Oncologist and Chief of Medical Oncology at Unique Hospital Cancer Centre in New Delhi’s Dwarka, shared, “Chemotherapy, a well-established cancer treatment, uses drugs to target and destroy fast-growing cells. Its versatility allows it to be used either on its own or in combination with other treatments, forming part of a multimodal approach to cancer therapy.”

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Dr Amit Upadhaya, Sniorr Consultant – Medical Oncology at MASSH Hospital in New Delhi, revealed, “Chemotherapy is not a single drug but a group of more then 400 drugs. Though many chemotherapy drugs can have certain side effects but now as new agents are coming up, the side effect profile is also getting better and in fact many of the newer preparation have minimal side effects and are very safe even in patients of liver or kidney dysfunctions.”

Dr Ashish Gupta highlighted a few things that you might not know about chemotherapy:

  1. Chemotherapy is not painful, and many patients can live a relatively normal life while undergoing treatment. It is important to avoid close contact with individuals who are sick, as chemotherapy can weaken the immune system. Rest assured, no one else will get cancer or have any problem if you are taking chemo, such as your spouse, grandchildren, or anyone else around you.
  2. Age is not a barrier to receiving chemotherapy. Before starting treatment, your physical fitness will be evaluated, and the chemotherapy regimen will be adjusted to suit your individual needs.
  3. Chemotherapy can be administered in various ways, including through a normal IV, a PICC line, or a chemo port, depending on the specific chemotherapy and your preferences.
  4. Many people continue to work while undergoing chemotherapy. Most patients do not feel immediate side effects after their treatments; these effects typically begin a few days later. You may need to take a few days off work during this period, but many find they can maintain their routine with some adjustments.

Dr Amit Upadhaya stated, “There are many ways to use the drugs and in different dosage and schedule. Accordingly, the schedule, dose and side effect profile also keep changing as per the clinical situation. Now a days a lot of research is being done in cancer treatment and many new targeted agents and biotherapy molecule, are coming up which are as good as or better than conventional chemotherapies. They can be taken for long period of time. Usually there is no restriction on diet unless specifically told but all the hygienic precaution are to be followed strictly.”

He concluded, “It is not necessary that all patients of chemotherapy will have hair fall, or vomiting or mouth ulcers. In fact now with better premedication. These side effects are hardly seen. Also there are many chemotherapy drugs which don’t cause hair fall. Few non medical Intervention like yoga, meditation, regular exercise, regular fruits and vegetables intake etc. have been shown to decrease the side effects and also chances of cancer coming back.”

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