CURE IN CANCER

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a lot of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." – Albert EISTEIN

Chemotherapy – The devil is in the details

Chemotherapy – The devil is in the details

Chemotherapy is the use of medicine to treat cancer. Chemotherapy kills cancer cells. It may be used to cure cancer, help keep it from spreading, or reduce symptoms.

In some cases, people are treated with a single type of chemotherapy. But often, people get more than one type of chemotherapy at a time. This helps attack the cancer in different ways.

Standard chemotherapy works by killing cancer cells and some normal cells. 

How Chemotherapy Works

All cells in the body grow by splitting into two cells, or dividing. Others divide to repair damage in the body. Cancer occurs when something causes cells to divide and grow out of control. They keep growing to form a mass of cells, or tumor.

Chemotherapy attacks dividing cells. This means that it is more likely to kill cancer cells than normal cells. Some types of chemotherapy damage the genetic material inside the cell that tells it how to copy or repair itself. Others types block chemicals the cell needs to divide.

Some normal cells in the body divide often, such as hair and skin cells. These cells also may be killed by chemo. That is why it can cause side effects like hair loss. But most normal cells can recover after treatment ends.

Chemotherapy Drugs

There are more than 100 different chemotherapy drugs. Below are the seven main types of chemotherapy, the types of cancer they treat, and examples. The caution includes things that differ from typical chemotherapy side effects.

ALKYLATING AGENTS

Used to treat:

  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Hodgkin disease
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Sarcoma
  • Cancers of the lung, breast, and ovary

Examples:

  • Busulfan (Myleran)
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Temozolamide (Temodar)

Caution:

  • May damage bone marrow, which can lead to leukemia.

ANTIMETABOLITES

Used to treat:

  • Leukemia
  • Cancer of the breast, ovary, and intestinal tract

Examples:

  • 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)
  • 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP)
  • Capecitabine (Xeloda)
  • Gemcitabine

Caution: None

ANTI-TUMOR ANTIBIOTICS

Used to treat:

  • Many types of cancer.

Examples:

  • Dactinomycin (Cosmegen)
  • Bleomycin
  • Daunorubicin (Cerubidine, Rubidomycin)
  • Doxorubicin (Adriamycin PFS, Adriamycin RDF)

Caution:

  • High doses can damage the heart.

TOPOISOMERASE INHIBITORS

Used to treat:

  • Leukemia
  • Lung, ovarian, gastrointestinal, and other cancers

Examples:

  • Etoposide
  • Irinotecan (Camptosar)
  • Topotecan (Hycamtin)

Caution:

  • Some can make a person more likely to get a second cancer, called acute myeloid leukemia, within 2 to 3 years.

MITOTIC INHIBITORS

Used to treat:

  • Myeloma
  • Lymphomas
  • Leukemias
  • Breast or lung cancer

Examples:

  • Docetaxel (Taxotere)
  • Eribulin (Halaven)
  • Ixabepilone (Ixempra)
  • Paclitaxel (Taxol)
  • Vinblastine

Caution:

  • More likely than other types of chemotherapy to cause painful nerve damage.

I am sure you got the picture by now. Every chemo drug has a major side effect that can be life threatening. Also lot of causes of death are due to ADR (Adverse Drug Reactions) and chemo plays a big part in it.

So the following are some key points to understand before you make a decision to go with Chemotherapy:

  1. Understand the drug being used and read all the positive and negative aspects of it
  2. Will it be a single drug or a combination of drugs ?
  3. Have you been tested to make sure that you are not allergic to the drug ? How did they test it to be 200% sure ? Biopsy, minimal dose etc.,
  4. What will be the recommended dosage ?
  5. What other complications does the drug create ?

Chemotherapy is nothing but poison going into your body ? You have to be really sure if you want that to happen ?

References

American Cancer Society website. Chemotherapy drugs: how chemotherapy drugs work. www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/chemotherapy/how-chemotherapy-drugs-work.html. Updated February 15, 2016. Accessed December 19, 2017.

Collins JM. Cancer pharmacology. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 29.

National Cancer Institute website. A to Z list of cancer drugs. www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/drugs. Updated December 15, 2017. Accessed December 19, 2017.

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