What is Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is the process of using drugs, medication or drugs to treat a disease, primarily cancer. In simple words, it is the therapy done to destruct the cancerous cells in the body. It aims to destroy the cancer cells that have spread to the other parts of the body, away from the primary tumor.
How Does Chemotherapy Work?
Our body creates a balance of good cells by reproducing them as they keep on dying. Unlike this, the cancer cells increase when their balance is disrupted, i.e. they keep on multiplying, and the pace is out of control. Their growth poses a great danger because as they grow, they keep on occupying more space by killing the good and healthy cells.
These healthy cells are the ones who protect your intestine, let your hair grow, etc. Chemotherapy aims to disrupt this reproduction process and attacks the cancer cells to stop their growth.
What Chemotherapy Does?
*Cure- The primary objective of chemotherapy is to destroy cancer cells and remove the traces of cancer from the body. It aims to stop their growth in future as well.
*Control Cancer’s Growth- Chemotherapy initially seeks to curb the growth of cancerous cells and then eventually reduce its growth till it is eliminated completely from the body.
*Relieve of Cancer Symptoms- Also known as palliative care, chemotherapy aims to shrink the pain causing and cancerous tumors.
Every treatment has its set of advantages and disadvantages, and so does Chemotherapy. Here are some pros and cons of chemotherapy which are discussed below.
Pros of Chemotherapy
1. Cures Cancer
Chemotherapy aims to cure the cancerous tumor in its early stages so that they do not become malignant with time. After Chemotherapy, they can also be managed via surgery to remove the trace of it at all.
2. Increase Lifespan
Chemotherapy can provide few days, months or even years to a person to live. The treatment aims to destroy as many cells as possible and eventually to increase the lifespan of the individual.
If Chemo cannot completely cure (in the last stage of cancer), it still aims to help to an extent and make the pain bearable
3. Boosts Survival Rate
Sometimes when chemotherapy fails to work, cancer may relapse, and the cancerous cells will start to reproduce again.
Chemotherapy, even if not so efficient will eventually help to boost survival rate. As per Statistics, the success rate of chemotherapy has improved from the last ten years.
4. Reduces Chances of Relapse
Chemotherapy aims to wreck the cancer cells and also reduces the chances of their reproduction. It seeks to ensure a healthy life to the patient after chemotherapy.
5. Shrink Tumours
Chemotherapy aims to reduce the size of the tumor, sometimes before the surgery. It is also beneficial as it sometimes alleviates the need of having surgery too.
6. Scientific Treatment
Chemotherapy is an entirely an experimental treatment that has evolved over the years and has shown improvement in its success rate. With the advanced technology, the medications and treatments of chemotherapy have also developed, helping the patients to live a bearable life until they get healthy again.
7. Prevents from Spreading
Timely diagnosis and chemotherapy help to attack the cancer cells and also prevents them from spreading to the other parts of the body.
When cancer tries to spread to the other organs, it results in pain and discomfort. Chemotherapy relieves such pressure and prevents it from spreading in the body.
8. Flexible Treatment
Chemotherapy is a very flexible treatment, and its process varies from person to person.
It enables the doctor to adjust the medication of the patient according to the patient’s health and track the improvement of the patient.
9. Drugs as per Side Effects
The Drugs for chemotherapy can be given according to the reducing side effects. Hence this makes this therapy even for efficient for the patient because of its ability to modify as per the side effects being faced.
10. Slows Down Progression of Disease
Chemotherapy aims at slowing down the rate of production of cancers cells and eventually tries to stop them altogether. Its objective is to slow down the progression of the disease and kill all the cancerous cells.
Cons of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is not easily affordable treatment and is very expensive. It creates a lot of financial pressure on the family and the individual.
2. Not Accessible Everywhere
Chemotherapy is a scientific treatment which is not available in rural areas and under-developed areas. Sometimes it may not be feasible to travel long distances to reach the hospital hence depriving the patient of treatment.
3. Hair Loss
The most common side effect of chemotherapy is hair loss. Chemotherapy also makes the skin very sensitive to the sun. Although, these side effects are not permanent but might disturb the patient emotionally during the treatment.
4. Weakness and Ill Health
Post Chemotherapy, a patient is not as healthy as he/she should be and hence needs the care to get fit again. Immunity of the person needs to be developed post chemotherapy.
5. Discomfort During the course
Even though Chemotherapy does not involve incision, but it causes discomfort to the patient in the form of nausea, vomiting, headaches, irritation, etc.
6. Loss of Appetite
A person undergoing chemotherapy experiences a loss of its appetite due to the medications. Tastes and preferences of the person also change and hence it is advised to keep a balanced diet on routine.
7. Daily Routine To be Affected
Chemotherapy may often require a person to either stay in the hospital or pay frequent visits for chemotherapy sessions. This affects the daily routine of the patient that includes exercise, sleep quality, appetite, etc.
8. Less Immunity
The chemotherapy process, although, aims at targeting the cancer cells but it also ends up harming some of the healthy white blood cells that provide protection to the body.
As a result, this ends up lowering the immunity of the person and hence making him more prone to other diseases such as flu.
9. Interferes with Other Medicines
Chemotherapy can interfere with the other medications as well and have different reactions, including making some of them ineffective. Proper assessment and care are required to formulate a plan before starting with the chemotherapy.