The Ins and Outs of Chemotherapy

The Ins and Outs of Chemotherapy

chemoWhen you first find out that you have cancer, there are numerous things that come to mind. Depending on what stage your cancer is in and where it is located, you may first think of the things you need to check off your bucket list before dying. You may next want to splurge and spend your money on friends and family while you do things you always wanted to, but never found the time to previously. You may also think about what you can do to fight back against that cancer to rid your body of the illness. This of course will allow you extra time to do all those things you wanted to do before you died anyway.

When it comes to using chemotherapy to fight back against the illness that is killing you from the inside, some often forget about the negative sides of the treatment. What are some of those negative reactions, what does the treatment do to your body and what other treatment options could you consider first?

Why People Use Chemotherapy

Essentially, the main reason why people use chemotherapy as their treatment method against cancer is that it kills the bad cancer cells that have attacked your body and in some cases, spread to other areas. Depending on the type and severity of your cancer, chemotherapy can be used as the lone treatment method or used in conjunction with other treatments. Ultimately, the main goal of the treatment for most people is to kill off all the cells, while for others, the main goal is to simply slow down the process.

Chemotherapy can be used before or after other treatment methods, but this should be discussed with your doctor. It can be used after surgery to kill off the remaining bad cells in your body or used before other treatments as it will shrink the tumors. In extreme cases, the treatment may only be used as a way of reducing the pain a patient may have to make their last few months easier should they be unable to rid their body of the cancer.

Chemotherapy isn’t solely used to fight back against cancer as it can also be used to treat other conditions in the body. Those who have bone marrow diseases might have chemotherapy before a bone marrow stem cell transplant. Anyone that suffers from lupus or rheumatoid arthritis may also use chemotherapy to help control the effects of those conditions on the immune system.

What Chemotherapy Does to the Body

Anyone that thinks chemotherapy is an easy way of going about treatment of cancer need to understand that the treatment has as many harmful effects on the body as positive. There are dozens of different drugs used for chemotherapy and that number is growing closer to the hundreds now. No matter what the exact drug is that is being used, the main goal of all them is to attack and kill the cells that are harming your body. While chemotherapy works at killing the bad cells, it also kills the good cells in the body, which leads to certain problems such as hair loss, diarrhea, memory changes, sexual and fertility changes in men and women and fatigue.

Can Chemotherapy Boost Cancer Growth?

There are numerous other side effects of using chemotherapy but there is one thing that seems unheard of that can occur when you receive chemotherapy treatment. There has been some research that has found that chemotherapy – the treatment that is supposed to kill cancer cells within the body – may actually boost the growth of the harmful cells. This result came about when researchers were trying to determine why cancer cells are easier to kill in laboratories than they are in real world situations. With the common knowledge being that not only the cancerous cells are killed during chemotherapy, but the good cells as well, researchers found that the cells develop a protein that actually supports the growth of the harmful cells again. When researchers examined tissues collected from men after treatment, they saw that the cells contained more of the protein WNT 16B which encourages cancer cell survival.

When examined further, scientists found that the cells with the extra protein would work with tumor cells close to them and help them grow and eventually resist therapy treatment. Due to the way that the cells with the protein work, the treatment may originally appear to be working before regressing.

What Other Options Are Available for Those Not Using Chemotherapy

If your doctor tells you that your cancer hasn’t spread to other parts of the body and that you don’t need to undergo chemotherapy treatment, there are other treatment options you can try.

There are numerous medications meant to help fight back against the harmful cancer cells in the body including:

  • Provenge – The Provenge treatment is unique in the fight against cancer growth. When a patient undergoes Provenge treatment, what happens is the doctors are using your own immune system to help flush your body of the harmful cells. A normal Provenge treatment features two instances of your blood being withdrawn and treated with medication and two instances of the new blood being infused back into your blood stream.
  • Oral Medications – There are plenty of medication options for those that don’t want to have their blood drawn multiple times or those looking to stay away from chemotherapy. These oral medications all have different reactions within the body that help fight the spread of cancer. Zytiga reduces the amount of testosterone in the body, which is a hormone that can encourage growth of prostate cancer cells. Other medications include Xtandi and Xofigo.
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