The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Chemotherapy

Many cancer patients are advised to take chemotherapy to control the spread of cancer cells. However, they also cause certain damages to other normal cells in the body. Knowing about the advantages and disadvantages of the therapy will prepare the patient to mentally accept the disadvantages and to recover from the side effects faster.


  •         Advantages

The chemical agents used for the therapy will kill the cancer cells and reduce the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. The patient will be able to live normally after the chemo treatment. The chemotherapy drugs are available in the form of intravenous injections or as pills. These drugs, when used in combinations, are highly effective in controlling cancer. The patient can be completely cured of cancer with the right type of chemotherapy. Even the smallest cancer cells, which are difficult to detect by tests will be destroyed by chemo drugs. In the case of large tumors, chemotherapy will help to reduce the size of the tumors and this will make surgery less invasive and less time taking. The new chemo drugs are very specific in action and are more effective.

  •         Disadvantages

As there are different types of drugs used for chemotherapy the side effects experienced by the patients may vary from person to person.  There will be emotional and physical changes during or after chemotherapy. Your body will be more prone to infections. The symptoms of side effects will start within 24- 48 hours after the exposure to the chemo drugs. The disadvantage of this treatment is that the chemo drugs can damage sensitive cells like cells inside the mouth and digestive system, the bone marrow cells and hair follicles, as a result, the person will experience nausea, weight loss, memory loss, hair loss, etc. The exposure to these drugs can also cause fertility problems in men and women.

Most of the damaged cells will return to normalcy after the chemotherapy. There are medications available to reduce the side effects.


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How To Cope With Chemotherapy Side Effects?

If you have been diagnosed with cancer and are taking treatments for cancer, then there is no doubt that you would have to face different kinds of side effects. It is very important to have a talk with your oncologist and find out the likely side effects that you would be suffering from due to the chemo treatment. It is highly important to enjoy symptom management and supportive care as part of the cancer care. Some of the common side effects that you would face after undergoing the chemotherapy are nausea, fatigue, and pain.

  •         Nausea

Anyone undergoing chemotherapy will face nausea and vomiting side effects Most of the patients will be administered anti-nausea drugs when they are getting the chemo treatment. It would be better to avoid fried, salty, greasy and spicy food when taking the chemo treatment.

  •         Hair loss

This is one of the most common side effects of chemo treatment. All the rapidly dividing cells in the body will be killed by the chemo drugs and this means that the hair roots will also get destroyed. There are patients who even lose hair on their eyelashes, armpit hair, eyebrows and pubic hair when they undergo the chemo treatment. The most common hair loss is seen on the top of their head. The hair loss from the chemo treatment is just a temporary one and it will start to grow once the treatment is stopped. You will regain your hair in three to ten months after the last chemotherapy. An easy way to cope with hair loss is to cover the head with hats, scarves, and wigs or to cut the hair very short just before the treatment.

  •         Changes in skin and nail

The patients undergoing chemo treatment might feel their skin to be itchy, dry and turn red. The minor irritation can be treated by using mild soaps and natural creams and lotions on the skin. My friend from created a hand cream that can help with this. The nails can turn brittle, yellow in color and dark during the chemotherapy. These are just cosmetic changes happening in your body due to the drugs and will stop once the drugs and stopped. One of the ways to reduce the drug from reaching your hands is to wear frozen mittens on your hand. This will help in keeping the hands cold.

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What To Expect From Chemotherapy?

Have you and your doctor decided that chemotherapy is the best solution that you have to treat your health problems? Are you still worried about what you would be going through during the chemotherapy treatment? Well, it is normal for anyone to be worried about what to expect during a chemo treatment and also to know how it will affect your daily life and routine. This is why you need to talk to your doctor as well as the oncology nurse and the oncologist to get all the information that you need about the chemo treatment before starting it. This will help you to cooperate with the treatment better.


Interact with the medical team

Before you start the chemotherapy treatment, it is advisable that you get in touch with the team who will be taking care of you and administering the treatment on you. The medical oncologist is the doctor who will work other team members to develop a treatment plan for you according to the condition you are in at the present. The oncologist will treat your cancer with the right medication. He or she will be in-charge of the chemo treatment given to you. To assist the doctor, there will be an oncology nurse. They will be taking care of the patient during the chemo treatment and will be giving you the chemotherapy. He or she will be answering all your questions about the treatment and also guide you through the chemo process. The nurse will be having a track of your progress during the treatment. They will also have a close eye on any side effects that you might be feeling during the chemotherapy.

Meeting with the oncology doctor

You will need to meet the medical oncologist before you start the treatment. If your family doctor or any other physician has referred you to an oncologist, then he or she will have to go through your medical records to understand your situation. The doctor will also be carrying out a physical examination and will also conduct certain tests in order to plan the right treatment for your case. The treatment will depend on the type, size and the location of the cancer, the general health, your age, and certain other factors.

The chemo treatment

The chemotherapy is given as repeated cycles and the duration of the cycle will depend on the type of condition the patient is in and the chemo treatment that is given. Normally, the chemo cycles range from 2 to 6 weeks. The treatment doses that will be administered on the patents will vary according to the drugs that are given to the patients. A cycle might contain just one dose of medication on the first day or it might involve more than one dose administered daily or once in a week. The normal scenario is that there will be a re-evaluation of your case and tests will be done to see how the treatment is done after a couple of cycles. The chemo treatment cycles will continue if the chemotherapy is showing good results.

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What You Need To Know About Chemotherapy?

Those who undergo chemotherapy usually experience certain physical and emotional changes. The side effects that someone would experience from chemotherapy drugs would be different as the drugs used in different cancer treatments are diverse. However, unknown to many people, the management of the side effects has also advanced as the chemotherapy treatments have evolved over the years.

It is to be remembered that the way you feel after such sessions has no correlation to the effects of the benefits that chemotherapy sessions have on your cancer treatment process. Usually, the side effects come on about 24 to 48 hours after a treatment session has been taken. Most doctors or oncologists are concerned about the effects of chemotherapy sessions that patients feel and wish to ensure that the pain or discomfort is minimal as compared to the real benefits of making cancer go into remission mode.


Patients are asked to look after their general health requirements and get any pending care done before undergoing chemotherapy. For instance, if one needs their teeth to be cleaned, they need to get this done before going in for chemotherapy. It is also important that you have the support of your friends and family members. They need to recognize the impact that cancer has on you as well as the challenges of chemotherapy.

The common side effects include fever and chances of infection. As the white blood cell count is lowered by chemotherapy, your body’s natural immunity levels go down; the neutrophil count goes down in particular and this needs to be monitored. Only when this is up at optimal levels is the next chemotherapy session scheduled. Often patients suffer slight fever that might be accompanied by chills. As your body remains susceptible to bacterial infection from seven to 12 days after you undergo a session, you need to take proper precautions in terms of exposing yourself to bacterial infection or chances of such occurrences.

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