chemotherapy for cancer,types,side effect,how its work

Chemotherapy For Cancer : Everything You Need to Know

(Last Updated On: March 10, 2018)





What Is Chemotherapy

Definition Of Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy (chemo) could be a type of treatment that has a medication or combination of medications to treat cancer.

The goal of chemo is to prevent or slow the growth of cancer cells.

Chemo is considered a systemic therapy. this implies it should have an effect on your entire body.

Chemo medications attack rapidly growing cancer cells, however they will also have an effect on healthy cells that grow quickly.

The impact of these medications on normal cells usually causes chemo side effects which we cover in this article :

Types Of Chemotherapy

Many different types of chemotherapy drugs are used to treat cancer. the various types of chemotherapy medication is grouped or classified into a variety of categories. These classifications will change as new drugs are developed.

Chemotherapy medication are sometimes classified based on their chemical structure and the way they act on cancer cells.

Cell Cycle

The cell cycle describes the steps, or phases, that normal and cancer cells undergo after they build new cells. The cell cycle is vital in chemotherapy because some medicine work best when the cells are active or quickly dividing, whereas other drugs work better with cells that are in a certain phase in the cycle. several medication also appear to possess some impact on cells that are at rest (not in cycle).

Although most medication work into more than one class, the following classifications is useful in understanding the action of the drug.

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Cell cycle–specific drugs (also known as phase-non-specific drugs) are functional on cells that are continuously growing and dividing, however they do not need the cell to be in a specific phase of the cell cycle.

Some drugs during this group are more effective on cells that are in a specific phase of the cell cycle, though not to the degree of cell cycle phase–specific drugs.

Cell cycle phase–specific drugs are most active against cells that are in a particular phase of the cell cycle, for example during a growth phase.

Cell cycle–non-specific drugs seem to be effective on cancer cells on any phase of the cell cycle.

Chemotherapy Drugs

Chemotherapy drugs are usually divided into many categories. different types of drugs in every category are classified based on their action, structure or source. Some medicine appear to suit into over one category. Others don’t work into any category.

Alkylating drugs

The category name indicates the drug’s action. Alkylating drugs have an effect on cells therefore the DNA isn’t copied, or replicated, properly. Cancer cells are more sensitive to DNA harm because they reproduce quickly, which implies they don’t have time to repair the broken DNA.

Most alkylating drugs are cell cycle–specific drugs, however not phase-specific drugs. Some are cell cycle–non-specific.

Alkylating drugs are used to treat –



Multiple myeloma


Cancers of the lung, breast, and ovary

Hodgkin disease

Examples of Alkylating drugs :

Busulfan (Busulfex, Myleran)

Temozolamide (Temodar)

Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)

Cautions of Alkylating drugs :

May damage bone marrow, which can lead to leukemia.


The category name indicates the drug’s action. Antimetabolites act as a substitute for the metabolites that are utilized in normal metabolism. Antimetabolites have an effect on cancer cells more than normal cells because cancer cells divide more quickly.

Antimetabolites are cell cycle–specific. many are phase-specific.

Antimetabolites are used to treat :

Cancer of the breast, ovary, and intestinal tract


Examples of Antimetabolites drugs :

Gemcitabine (Gemzar)

6-mercaptopurine (6-MP)

Capecitabine (Xeoloda)

5-fluorouracil (5-FU)

Topoisomerase inhibitors

Topoisomerase inhibitors are made up of a Chinese tree or the mayapple plant. These medicine interfere with certain enzymes, that affects the expansion of cancer cells or makes them die.

Topoisomerase inhibitors are used to treat :

Lung, ovarian, gastrointestinal, and other cancers


Examples of Topoisomerase inhibitors :

Teniposide (Vumon)

Etoposide (Toposar, VePesid)

Topotecan (Hycamtin)

Irinotechan (Camptosa)

Cautions of Topoisomerase inhibitors :

Some can make a person more likely to get a second cancer, called acute myeloid leukemia, within two to three years.

Mitotic Inhibitors

Mitotic inhibitors are different form of natural product. They interfere with mitosis, or cell division. Some mitotic inhibitors are Made from the periwinkle plant.

Mitotic Inhibitors are used to treat :


Breast or lung cancer



Examples of mitotic inhibitors :

Eribulin (Halaven)

Ixabepilone (Ixempra)

Paclitaxel (Taxol)

Docetaxel (Taxotere)

Vinblastine (Velban, Velsar)

Cautions of mitotic inhibitors :

More likely than other types of chemotherapy to cause painful nerve damage.

How Does Chemotherapy work

As a part of the body’s natural process, cells are constantly replaced through a method of dividing and growing.

When cancer occurs, cells reproduce in an uncontrolled manner.

More and more cells are created, and that they begin to occupy an increasing amount of space till they occupy the space previously inhabited by helpful cells.

Chemotherapy medicine interfere with a cancer cell’s ability to divide and reproduce.

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It targets cells that grow and divide quickly, as cancer cells do. not like radiation or surgery, that target specific areas, chemo will work throughout your body.

however it also can have an effect on some fast-growing healthy cells, like those of the skin, hair, intestines, and bone marrow. That’s what causes a number of the side effects from the treatment.

A single drug or a mixture of medicine is used.

These will be delivered either directly into the blood, to attack cancer cells throughout the body, or they’ll be targeted to specific cancer sites.

What does chemotherapy do?

It depends on the type of cancer you have and how far on it is.

Cure: In some cases, the treatment will destroy cancer cells to the point that your doctor can not observe them in your body. After that, the simplest outcome is that they never grow back again, however that doesn’t always happen.

Control: In some cases, it should only be able to keep cancer from spreading to different parts of your body or slow the expansion of cancer tumors.

Facilities symptoms: Chemotherapy not able cure or control the growth of cancer tumor in some cases, and used to just shrink tumors that cause pain or pressure. These tumors usually continue to grow back.

How is Chemotherapy used?

Sometimes Chemotherapy treats cancer by itself , however more often it’s implement in combination with:

Surgery: In Surgery Doctor Removes cancerous tumors or tissue, or organs which contain cancerous cells from our body.

Radiation therapy: in this therapy, A doctor uses invisible radioactive particles to kill cancer cells. it’s going to be delivered by a special machine that bombards parts of your body from the skin, or by putting radioactive material on, near, and even within your body.

Biological therapy: Living material in the form of bacteria, vaccines, or antibodies are carefully introduced to kill cancer cells.

Chemotherapy could also be used to:

Shrink a growth before radiation therapy or surgery — known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy

Destroy any remaining cancer cells after surgery or radiation therapy — known as adjuvant chemotherapy

make different therapies (biological or radiation) more effective

Destroy cancer cells that come back or unfold to different parts of your body

How long does Chemotherapy last?

That depends on:

the type of cancer you have

how far on it is

The goal of treatment: cure, control growth, or ease pain

the kind of chemotherapy

The manner your body responds to the treatment

For best results, the patient will need regular chemotherapy over a period which will be fixed by the your doctor.

A plan will be drawn up that specifies when treatment sessions can occur and for the way long.

You may have chemotherapy in “cycles,” which suggests a period of treatment and then a period of rest. for example, a 4-week cycle could also be 1 week of treatment then 3 weeks of rest.

The remainder allows your body to create new healthy cells.

Once a cycle has been prepared, it’s better to not skip a treatment, however your doctor might recommend it if side effects are serious.

Then your medical team can likely arrange a new cycle to help you get back on track.

Which test is happened before and during Chemotherapy ?

Blood tests are required to assess the patient’s health and to confirm that they’ll be able to deal with possible side effects.

For example, if a blood test detects liver problems, further treatment could also be unsuitable unless the liver recovers.

Chemotherapy drugs and other chemicals are metabolized, or broken down, in the liver. If the liver is overwhelmed, this could have a range of secondary effects.

If blood testing before treatment shows a low count of red or white cells or platelets in the blood, treatment may need to be delayed.

Throughout the treatment period, Regular blood tests can continue to confirm that blood and liver are function well, and to observe the effectiveness of the treatment.

How is the Chemotherapy dose given?

Injection: The medicine are delivered with a shot directly into muscle in your hip, thigh, or arm, or in the fatty part of your arm, leg, or stomach, just below the skin.

Intra-arterial (IA): The medicine go directly into the artery that’s feeding the cancer, through a needle, or soft, skinny tube (catheter).

Intraperitoneal (IP): The medicine are delivered to the peritoneal cavity, that contains organs like your liver, intestines, stomach, and ovaries. it’s done throughout surgery or through a tube with a special port that is put in by your doctor.

Intravenous (IV): The chemotherapy goes directly into a vein.

Topical: You rub the medicine in a cream form onto your skin.

Oral: You swallow a pill or liquid that has the medicine.

Working of Intravenous (IV) delivery in Chemotherapy

Needle: medicine could also be sent through a skinny needle in a vein on your hand or lower arm. Your nurse inserts the needle and removes it once treatment is finished. Tell your doctor quickly if you are feeling pain or burning throughout treatment.

Catheter: It’s a soft, thin tube. Your doctor puts one end into a large vein, typically in your chest area. the
other end stays outside your body and is used to deliver chemotherapy or other medicine, or to draw blood. it always stays in place till all of your treatment cycles are finished. watch for signs of infection around your catheter.

Port: It’s a small disc that a surgeon places under your skin. It’s joined to a tube (catheter) that connects to a large vein, usually in your chest. A nurse could insert a needle into your port to give you chemotherapy medicine or draw blood.

The needle that insert into your port is left in place for treatments that last more than a day. Tell your doctor if you notice any signs of infection around your port.

Pump: usually connected to catheters or ports, it controls the amount of chemotherapy medicine, and how quick they get into your body. you will carry this pump with you, or a doctor could place it under your skin.

Feel during Chemotherapy

There’s no way to know for sure. It depends on your overall health, the type of cancer you have, however so much on it is, and therefore the amount and type of chemotherapy medicine.

Your genes can also play a part. It’s common to feel ill or very tired after chemotherapy.

you’ll prepare for this by getting somebody to drive you back and forth from treatment. you must also plan to rest on the day of and the day after treatment.

During this point, it’s going to facilitate to get some facilitate with meals and child care, if necessary.

Your doctor could also be ready to assist you manage some of the more severe side effects of chemotherapy.

Side Effect Of Chemotherapy

Here are some of the Most common side effects caused by chemotherapy :

 ⇒ Mouth, tongue, and throat problems such as sores and pain with swallowing

 ⇒ Nerve and muscle problems such as numbness, tingling, and pain

 ⇒ Skin and nail changes such as dry skin and color change

 ⇒ Urine and bladder changes and kidney problems

 ⇒ Weight changes

 ⇒ Chemo brain, which can affect concentration and focus

 ⇒ Mood changes

 ⇒ Fatigue

 ⇒ Hair loss

 ⇒ Easy bruising and bleeding

 ⇒ Infection

  ⇒ Anemia (low red blood cell counts)

 ⇒ Nausea and vomiting

 ⇒ Appetite changes

 ⇒ Constipation

 ⇒ Diarrhea

 ⇒ Changes in libido and sexual function

 ⇒ Fertility problems


Reference :

American Cancer Society




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