Chemotherapy

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What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment. Use medications (drugs) to kill cancer cells.

How does chemotherapy work?

Cancer cells grow and divide rapidly. Chemotherapy or delay the growth of cancer cells. But it can also affect healthy cells that grow and divide rapidly. These include, for example:

  • The cells of the wetted in the mouth
  • The cells of the intestines
  • The cells that make hair grow

Damage to healthy cells may cause side effects. But often the side effects get better or go away after chemotherapy.

What does chemotherapy?

Depending on the type of cancer you have and how much you have grown or has spread (watered), chemotherapy can:

  • Curing cancer. This occurs when chemotherapy destroys cancer cells so that your doctor and not be detected in the body.
  • Controlling cancer. Chemotherapy can keep the cancer from spreading or cause it to grow more slowly. You can also kill cancer cells that have spread (watered) to other parts of the body.
  • Improve symptoms of cancer (this is also called palliative care). This occurs when chemotherapy reduces the size of tumors that are causing pain or pressure.

How is chemotherapy used?

Sometimes chemotherapy is the only treatment used against cancer. But in most cases also receive other treatments of chemotherapy. These may include surgery (an operation), radiation therapy, or biological therapy.

Chemotherapy may be used to:

  • Reduce the size of a tumor before surgery or radiation therapy. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
  • Destroy cancer cells that may remain after surgery or radiation therapy. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
  • Helping radiation therapy and biological therapy work better.
  • Destroy cancer cells that have come back (recurrent cancer).
  • Destroy cancer cells that have spread (watered) to other parts of the body (metastatic cancer).

How does my doctor decides what chemotherapy drugs should be used? Your doctor will make the decision based on the following:

  • The type of cancer you have. Some types of chemotherapy drugs are used to treat many types of cancer. But other medicines used to treat only one or two types of cancer.
  • If you have received or not received chemotherapy in the past.
  • If you have or have no other health problems such as diabetes or heart disease.

Where do I go for chemotherapy? You may receive chemotherapy:

  • While in the hospital.
  • At home
  • In a doctor’s office
  • In a clinical
  • In an outpatient facility of a hospital (ie it does not have to stay overnight in the hospital)

Anywhere you are going to receive chemotherapy, your doctor or nurse will pay attention to side effects. Furthermore, any change will be required medicine.
How often will I receive chemotherapy?

The treatment program (“treatment schedule”) for chemotherapy may vary. The frequency and duration of sessions of chemotherapy depend on:

  • The type of cancer you have and how much it has grown or spread (watered)
  • The goals of treatment (ie, if chemotherapy is used to cure cancer, control its growth or improve symptoms)
  • The type of chemotherapy
  • Your body’s reaction to chemotherapy

You may receive chemotherapy in cycles. A cycle is a period of chemotherapy treatment followed by a rest period. For example, your doctor may prescribe a week of chemotherapy and then three weeks of rest. These 4 weeks form a cycle. The rest period gives your body a chance to build new healthy cells.

I can? Miss a session of chemotherapy?

Not good to miss a chemotherapy treatment. But sometimes your doctor or nurse may change your chemotherapy schedule. This could be due to the side effects you are having. If that happens, your doctor or nurse will explain what to do and when to start treatment again.

How is chemotherapy given?

Chemotherapy may be given in many forms:

  • Injection. Injection is chemotherapy that is injected into a muscle:

    or One arm
    or one thigh
    or hip

    Or injected beneath the skin, the thickest part of:

    o One of the arms
    or legs One
    or abdomen (belly, belly)

  • Intraarterial. (“IA” in English). is intraarterial chemotherapy goes directly into the artery that is feeding the cancer, ie, connected to cancer.
  • Intraperitoneally. (“IP” in English). Intraperitoneal chemotherapy is going directly into the peritoneal cavity (the area that contains organs such as the intestines, stomach, liver and ovaries).
  • Intravenous. (“IV” in English). Intravenous chemotherapy is going directly into a vein.
  • Topically. The chemotherapy comes in a cream that can be rubbed on the skin.
  • Orally. The chemotherapy comes in pills, capsules or liquid that you can take by mouth.

Things to know about intravenous chemotherapy:

Chemotherapy often occurs through a fine needle. This needle is placed in a vein in your hand or forearm. Nurse will insert the needle at the beginning of each treatment. Then it will be removed when the treatment ends. If you feel pain or burning while receiving intravenous chemotherapy, immediately tell your doctor or nurse.

Chemotherapy is given into a vein often injected through a catheter or portal. This is sometimes done with the help of a pump.

  • The catheters. A catheter is a soft, thin tube. A surgeon places one end of the catheter into a large vein, often in the chest area. The other end of the catheter remains outside the body. Most catheters are left in place until you complete all chemotherapy treatments.The catheters also can be used for:

    Give other medicines or non-chemotherapy
    or take blood

    Be sure to watch for signs of infection around the catheter. For more information on infections, see the section entitled infection.

  • Portals. A portal (“port”) is a small round disk that is placed under the skin. It is made of plastic or metal. A catheter connects the portal with a large vein, most often in the chest. Your nurse may insert a needle into the portal to give you chemotherapy or draw blood. This needle can be there for chemotherapy treatments that are given for more than one day. Be sure to watch for signs of infection around your portal. For more information on infections, see the section entitled infection.
  • Pumps. The bombs often connected to catheters or portals. They are used to control the amount of chemotherapy that passes the catheter or portal, and how quickly that happens. The pumps can be internal or external. External pumps are outside the body and for most people they are portable. Internal pumps are placed under the skin during surgery.

What my body feel during chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy affects people in different ways. The way they feel their body depend on:

  • How healthy it was before treatment
  • The type of cancer you have
  • How has grown or has spread (watered) cancer
  • The type of chemotherapy that is receiving
  • The amount (dose) of chemotherapy

Doctors and nurses can not know for sure how you will feel during chemotherapy.

Some people do not feel well right after chemotherapy. The most common side effect is fatigue (feeling very tired and lack of energy).You can prepare to face the fatigue:

  • Asking someone to take you to the chemotherapy session and back to the house
  • Planning time to rest on the day of chemotherapy and the next day
  • Asking for help with meals and childcare.

There are many ways to help control the side effects of chemotherapy. For more information, see “A summary of the side effects.”

? I can work during chemotherapy?

Many people can work during chemotherapy if they change their schedule to fit how they feel. Whether you can work or not depends on the type of work you do. If your job allows, you may want to ask if you can work part time or from home the days you do not feel well.

There are laws that require some employers to change working hours for people with cancer to accommodate them while receiving treatment (“medical leave” in English). Talk to your employer about how you can adjust your work during chemotherapy. You can talk to a social worker for more on these laws.

I can take? Prescription and non-prescription medicines while receiving chemotherapy?

That depends on:

  • The type of chemotherapy you receive
  • The other types of medicines that plan to take

Take only the medicines your doctor or nurse approval. Tell your doctor or nurse about all prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, including for example:

  • Laxatives
  • Medicines for allergies
  • Medicines for colds (colds)
  • Pain medications (such as aspirin and ibuprofen)

One way to tell your doctor or nurse about these medications is to take all the bottles you have. Your doctor or nurse needs to know:

  • The name of each medicine
  • The reason that the outlet
  • The amount you take
  • How often are taken

Talk to your doctor or nurse before taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine. Also tell about vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements or natural tonics, herbal tea or taking.

? I can take vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements, or herbal tea while receiving chemotherapy?

Some of these products may change the effect of chemotherapy. It is therefore important that before starting chemotherapy, tell your doctor or nurse if you are taking any of the following things:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Dietary supplements (including juices as “Noni”)
  • Medicinal teas (such as cat’s claw)
  • Herbs

During chemotherapy, talk to your doctor before taking any of these products.

How do I know if the chemo is working? Your doctor:

  • We will physicals
  • It will make medical tests (such as blood tests and X-rays)
  • I wonder how it feels

You can not tell if the chemotherapy is working based on side effects. Some people believe that if they have serious side effects, that means that the chemotherapy is working well. Or maybe they think if they do not have serious side effects, that means that chemotherapy is not working. The reality is that the side effects have nothing to do with how effective the cancer chemotherapy.

How much is chemotherapy?

It is difficult to know how much it costs chemotherapy. That depends on:

  • The types of chemotherapy and amount used
  • How long and how often chemotherapy is given
  • Where receiving chemotherapy treatment
  • The region of the country where you live

Do you pay my insurance by chemotherapy?

Ask a representative from your insurance company what your plan covers. Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • What my insurance?
  • Does anyone (me or someone from my doctor) have to call my insurance company before each treatment?
  • What do I have to pay?
  • ? I can go to any doctor I want or I have to choose from a list of preferred providers?
  • Do I need a doctor to give me written permission to see a specialist?
  • Is there a co-pay (money I have to pay) every time you have an appointment?
  • Is there a deductible (certain amount need to pay) before my insurance pays?
  • Where should I get my prescriptions?
  • Will my insurance pay all my tests and treatments, I either inpatient or outpatient?

What is the best way to work with my insurance plan?

  • Check your insurance policy (his contract) before starting treatment. So you can know what your plan will pay and what your plan will not pay.
  • Keep records of all treatment costs and insurance claims (“insurance claim” in English).
  • Send your insurance company all documents requested. For example, this could include receipts:

    Questions or doctor
    or prescriptions
    or lab tests

    Also, keep copies of these documents.

  • If necessary, get help with insurance documents. You can get help from:

    or a friend
    or relative
    or a social worker
    or a local group as a center for seniors

  • If your insurance company does not pay for something you think you should pay, ask why the plan refused to pay. Then talk to your doctor or nurse about what to do next. He or she may suggest how to ask your insurance company to change the decision.
  • They also might suggest other steps you can take.

What are clinical trials? ? I can participate in?

Clinical studies on cancer (also called cancer clinical trials) test new treatments for people with cancer. These studies can be:

  • New types of chemotherapy
  • Other types of treatment
  • New ways of combining treatments

The goal of all these trials is to find better ways to help people who have cancer.

Your doctor or nurse may suggest that you participate in a clinical trial. But you can also tell them that you are interested in participating in a clinical trial. Before agreeing to participate in a clinical trial, you should know about:

  • Benefits. All trials provide good health care to people with cancer. Ask how this study can help you or others. For example, you might be one of the first people to receive a new treatment or a new medicine.
  • Risks. New treatments are not always better or as good as the standard treatments (established). Also, while a new treatment is good, may not give you good results.
  • Payment. Your insurance company may or may not pay for treatment that is part of the trial. Before agreeing to participate in a study, ask your insurance company if you pay for the treatment.

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