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Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy  

Chemotherapy is a type of treatment in which special anti-cancer drugs are administered into the body.  In general these drugs are designed to enter the bloodstream and then course through the body until they encounter cells which exhibit abnormal growth rates.  Since cancer cells are distinguished by their rapid and uncontrollable growth, this causes the drugs to react with and ultimately destroy these cancer cells.  So chemotherapy can be a very viable and effective way to treat cancer.  It can also be used in conjunction with other types of cancer treatment to improve the overall effectiveness.  Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is a type of treatment which is used prior to surgical techniques to treat tumors with the goal of reducing their size in order to make surgical removal more practical and effective. 

This technique may also enable surgical removal of a cancerous tumor which would be otherwise inoperable.  The use of these anti-cancer drugs to attack the tumor can also help surgeons to distinguish between cancerous tissue and healthy unaffected tissue.  So it can make the surgery less invasive and risky. 

In addition to treatment of identified cancerous tumors, this type of chemotherapy also has the potential to treat cancer which may have spread to other parts of the body.  So it can help to treat cancers which might otherwise go undetected or be unable to be treated through surgical procedures. 

However it should be understood that neoadjuvant chemotherapy is not without drawbacks and risks.  By its very nature the strong anti-cancer drugs are designed to attack any cells which exhibit rapid and unusual growth rates.  While this is primarily limited to cancer cells, there are a number of healthy cells which also grow very quickly.  This can include hair cells and the cells which line the inside of the abdomen.  So while the anti-cancer drugs are destroying cancer cells they also have the potential to kill and damage healthy cells and tissues. 

This can cause some serious side effects and complications.  Common side effects can include hair loss, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, fatigue, vomiting, sores on the skin or in the mouth, and loss of appetite.  There can be other complications such as damage to the heart of kidneys due to these toxic drugs passing through these organs. 

So the course of treatment must be carefully administered.  This is normally done by limiting the dosage and administering the drugs over a period of time to help the body to retain its strength and recover faster from these treatments.  This is particularly important for this type of treatment since it is essential that the patient be in the best possible health in order to withstand the rigors of surgery. 

The overall effectiveness of this type of treatment prior to surgery is based on many factors.  This includes the type of cancer involved, its stage of development and health factors related to the patient.  However for many types of cancer this can be one of the best ways to improve the success and long term results of surgical procedures.