Chemotherapy FAQs - Page 1
What is chemotherapy?
is the use of toxic agents for cancer cells (cytotoxic) to destroy them or prevent them from reproducing. Unlike
surgery and radiotherapy, chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that affects the entire body.
The main characteristic of cancer cells is multiplying rapidly and chaotically. Chemotherapy affects the cells when
they are in the process of dividing to reproduce. Unfortunately, chemotherapy drugs also exercise their destructive
action on healthy cells that normally renew themselves quickly in the body: mainly, the cells in the bone marrow
(which produces blood cells), cells of the hair, skin and mucous membrane of the mouth. This is the reason for
which cancer patients tend to suffer the following side effects: anemia, hair loss (alopecia), mouth sores,
fatigue, and others.
Are There Different types of chemotherapy?
Yes. Chemotherapy can be neoadjuvant
Chemotherapy - when administered before surgery,
the therapy is called neoadjuvant. In this case, the chemotherapy is often designed to facilitate the operation
by reducing the volume of the tumor:
for example in breast cancer, chemotherapy can be used to allow a less mutilating surgery. In other cases, a
localized cancer of the esophagus for example, the therapy can be practiced to reduce the risk of recidivism.
Chemotherapy – Adjuvant chemotherapy is when the
therapy is started after surgery to remove cancer cells that are still present in the body
and which were not detected, but would be able to occur several years after surgery by creating a relapse. In
short, adjuvant chemotherapy is a form of treatment used to prevent relapse.
is sometimes used as a systematic treatment for treating metastatic cancers, all cancers that have left their
original location to migrate to other organs.
How many cytotoxic agents a chemotherapy can include?
A chemotherapy drug may contain just
one cytotoxic agent, mono-Chemotherapy. The same, chemotherapy can contain multiple chemotherapic agents; this
is called poly-chemotherapy.
Are all chemotherapy treatments the
There are different chemotherapy
treatments depending on the nature of the drugs that are administered. The treatment combinations are called
chemotherapy regimens. For instance, chemotherapy regimens for breast cancer include CAF (sometimes called FAC),
CMF, EC and FEC – see chemotherapy regimens for more information.