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Chemotherapy , its benefits and harms

Monday, 27 September 2010

Is chemotherapy the cure ? 
A question that is asked frequently to health professionals concerning the management of cancer. In fact, chemotherapy has its advantages and its disadvantages. And this is our topic today.

Benefits of chemotherapy:
Chemotherapy kills the primary malignant tumour. It limits the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body. Radiation which is localized to a single site of the body, cannot kill distant malignant cells. Therefore chemotherapy prolongs the life span of the patient. Besides chemotherapy can reduce the size of the tumour so that surgery would be much easier for the surgeon and the patient. 
Chemotherapy can help relief the symptoms of an advanced cancer, as pain. This is called palliative chemotherapy.

But there are harms due to the use of chemotherapy too.

Harms of chemotherapy:
There are acute and long-term toxicity. 

Acute toxicity includes:
1. Bone marrow suppression. 
It is the most common and most serious acute toxicity. (Bone marrow is the industry that produces all blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets). With a low white blood count, the patient is liable to infections. If fever occurs, it is considered as a medical emergency. 
With a low platelets count, the patient is liable to bleeding tendency. 
That's why it is crucial to check the blood counts frequently when undergoing a chemotherapeutic treatment.

2. Gastrointestinal toxicity:
It can occur in the form of nausea, vomiting, stomatitis and diarrhea. The management will include analgesics and maintaining an adequate hydration level.

3. Neurological toxicity:
Paclitaxel, a chemotherapeutic agent, causes sensory peripheral neuropathy

4. Skin toxicity:
Rashes, photosensitivity and hair loss can occur.

5. Genitourinary toxicity:
Renal damage can occur. Cyclophosphamide (in high doses) can cause hemorrhagic cystitis.

6. Hypersensitivity:
Among the agents used in management of breast cancer, taxanes have the highest incidence. Taxanes include paclitaxel (Taxol) and docetaxel (Taxotere). To reduce hypersensitivity, a premedication with corticosteroids, diphenhydramine and histamine antagonists are used.

Long-term toxicity includes:
1.Premature menopause:
Chemotherapy causes ovarian ablation. Therefore it leads to premature menopause.

2. Cardiomyopathy

3. Secondary malignancy:
The risk was particularly high for patients treated with melphalan ( a drug no longer used in treatment of breast cancer). 

Owing to the above numerous side effects, there must be a safer option in treatment of cancer. i believe researches will be our way to get it.
At last, i want to encourage each and every cancer patient that there is always hope and that the psychological factor plays a great role in reaching cure.

1 comment

  1. maggie.danhakl@healthline.com18 April 2014 at 01:51


    Healthline just designed a virtual guide of the effects of chemotherapy on the body. You can see the infographic here: http://www.healthline.com/health/cancer/effects-on-body

    This is valuable med-reviewed information that can help a person understand the side effects they are experiencing from their chemo treatment. I thought this would be of interest to your audience, and I’m writing to see if you would include this as a resource on your page: http://med50.blogspot.com/2010/09/chemotherapy-its-benefits-and-harms.html

    If you do not believe this would be a good fit for a resource on your site, even sharing this on your social communities would be a great alternative to help get the word out.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to review. Please let me know your thoughts and if I can answer any questions for you.

    All the best,
    Maggie Danhakl • Assistant Marketing Manager
    p: 415-281-3124 f: 415-281-3199

    Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
    660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
    www.healthline.com | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp

    About Us: corp.healthline.com



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