Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Whenever a physician instructs a patient to start chemotherapy sessions, there are a lot of thoughts that daunt the patient’s mind. This article talks about the 10 important facts of chemotherapy sessions.

10 Important Facts Of Chemotherapy Sessions

10 Important Facts Of Chemotherapy Sessions

According to a research, it has been found that around 60 % of the patients are unaware of most of the important facts about chemotherapy. Most of them have an incomplete or a wrong picture about chemotherapy in their mind, especially about the side effects and the methodology of chemotherapy. The 10 important facts of chemotherapy sessions given here can be of great help to those planning for or are already undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Chemotherapy Treatment – Can Also Be Done with Pills and Skin Creams

One of the most important facts of chemotherapy sessions is that it is not always through an intravenous (IV) route. The selection of an alternative to the traditional form of chemotherapy depends on the type of cancer, site of cancer as well as on the type of patient.

Following are the various alternatives to the traditional IV chemotherapy sessions:-

  • Topical Chemotherapy - Topical chemotherapy is also done with the help of a gel or cream. It is commonly used in treating cancerous lesions and superficial cancer on the skin
  • Oral Chemotherapy - Oral chemotherapy is done with the help of pills, liquid or capsules.
  • Traditional Chemotherapy - Traditional chemotherapy is practiced by using an infusion port, just beneath the skin, that connects to vein
  • Injection Shots - Subcutaneous prefilled syringes are also used for the treatment of cancer. They are injected as shots in the subcutaneous layer of the skin.

Over-Night Stay May Not be Required, Always

It is not always necessary to get admitted in the hospital and stay overnight for the treatment. This too is one of the 10 important facts of chemotherapy sessions. With your doctor’s permission, if the condition allows, you can also get the chemotherapy treatment at your home, at doctor’s office or at the outpatient wing of the hospital.

The decision as to where to conduct the chemotherapy session depends on multiple factors which are as follows:-

  • The type of cancer
  • The stage of cancer
  • If it is the first time you are going to receive the chemotherapy treatment
  • Presence of specific health problems like heart disease and diabetes

Depending upon the goal of the treatment as well as by taking in account the discussed points, a convenient place for the chemotherapy can be decided by the doctor.

Chemotherapy Still Works Even if it Doesn’t Remove Tumor

One of the 10 important facts of chemotherapy sessions is that chemotherapy has various benefits in managing cancer, even if it cannot completely remove the tumor. Doctor’s being aware of this fact, still continue with the chemotherapy sessions because of the following reasons,

  • Shrinks Tumor - While chemotherapy may not be able to remove the tumor, it can still shrink it before proceeding ahead with any other form of cancer treatment like the radiation therapy or surgery
  • Kills Hidden Cancerous Cell - Doctors make use of chemotherapy sessions to kill the hidden cancerous cell, especially after the surgery to remove the cancerous tumor. It helps in preventing the recurrence of cancer in the patient
  • Manages the Symptoms - Managing cancer symptoms becomes easier with chemotherapy sessions. In certain cases, depending upon the medical condition of the patient, where the cure for cancer is not possible, chemotherapy sessions are used to make the life of the patient comfortable by minimizing the symptoms.

Chemotherapy Doesn’t Mean a Set-Back to Your Daily Work Schedule

Chemotherapy doesn’t disturb your work schedule, one of the most crucial of the 10 important facts of chemotherapy sessions. A little discomfort may be felt for few minutes to an hour, however, apart from that the patient can actually travel to his office and continue working for the rest of the day in most cases. Those who feel tired can consider altering their treatment day schedule a bit, but major changes may not be required. In fact, for many people, having work and goals at hand helps in recovering faster.

Preventive Approach and Dental Checkup help protect from infections

Chemotherapy sessions kill white blood cells, which normally fight-off disease causing germs, thus affecting the patient’s immune system. Then, the chances of infection increase several folds in the patient’s body. One of the 10 important facts of chemotherapy sessions is that regular check-ups and preventive steps can reduce the risk of infections in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

To deal with the problem, the patient should take care of the following points:-

  • Vaccinations - Make sure that you have taken all the required vaccines, before starting with the chemotherapy sessions, as advised by the treating doctor
  • Dental Checkup - Consult a dentist to have an oral check-up done to make sure that no bacteria are present in the mouth that could cause an infection during the cancer treatment
  • Precautions - Keep away from people as well as pets who are sick to avoid risk of contracting infections. Avoid crowded places and take necessary precautions when getting exposed to large groups of people
  • Hygiene - Maintaining proper hygiene and hand washing practice while on chemotherapy sessions. Instruct the same to your next-of-kin too.

Medications to Be Careful About

One of the 10 important facts of chemotherapy sessions is to be careful about any medications or supplements you take. There are certain supplements like vitamin A, C and E which ideally helps in improving the health of an individual, however, consuming these medications, while you are on chemotherapy regime, can interfere with the goal of treatment. It is therefore better to consult your doctor before consuming this class of medications.

Side Effects Vary

The side effects of chemotherapy may vary from patient to patient. This too is noteworthy amongst the 10 important facts of chemotherapy sessions. Sometimes a patient may experience almost all the side effects of chemotherapy like nausea, vomiting, hair loss, constipation, mood changes etc. however, in certain cases, the patient may not at all experience any side effect. The severity of side effects too varies from person to person, as one may experience only some hair fall while some may have total hair loss.

Duration of Side Effects

One of the 10 important facts of chemotherapy sessions is that the duration of side effects also varies. It may vary from few minutes to few hours, however, there are certain side effects that may last forever. Mentioned below are few examples:-

  • Infertility
  • Kidney, lung, heart problem
  • Peripheral neuropathy

The chances of developing permanent side effects depend upon the type of treatment, the stage of cancer at which the treatment starts, patient’s immune system etc. It is important to discuss with your physician to know more about the possibility of side effects and its duration, specifically for your case. This helps in preparing yourself for the future treatment and goal planning.

Diet Modifications Greatly Help

One of the 10 important fact of chemotherapy sessions is that consuming the right diet, in the right amount helps the patient stay active and energized while on chemotherapy regime. It also decreases the chances of developing symptoms due to chemotherapy.

Following are some of the diet tips for a patient who is going to undergo a chemotherapy treatment.

  • Calories and Proteins - Eat loads of protein as well as calories whenever you can. Ideally, your diet should be the heaviest in the morning. This helps in strengthening your immune system and hence helps in fighting the cancer symptoms.
  • Cold and Frozen Products - To avoid nausea and mood disorder while on chemotherapy regime, cool, soft or frozen food products like ice pops, yogurts or milkshakes can help.
  • Increase the Frequency of Meals - In order to avoid feeling full, all the time and suffering from weakness and hair loss, it is advised to increase the number of meals from 3 to 6 in a day by reducing the size of the meals.
  • Liquid Meals - If you have difficulty in consuming solid products, try replacing your diet with liquid meal, in order to suffice the need of nutrients in the body. Milk, juice, soup etc. can be consumed as an alternative to the solid meals.

Chemotherapy is not Always for Treating Cancer

It is a myth that chemotherapy is always used for treating a cancerous tumor. One of the 10 important fact of chemotherapy sessions is that they can be used in treatment of other conditions as well. Physicians, make use of the effectiveness and efficiency of the chemotherapy drugs to kill fast replicating cells. Following are some of the noncancerous medical conditions in which the use of chemotherapy is done.

  • Overactive Immune System - In certain cases, where the person’s immune system is overactive due to which it starts fighting against body’s own cells, it becomes important to make use of chemotherapy to suppress the immune system to the normal level. Rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are examples of the disease caused due to the overactive immune system in which the chemotherapy sessions can be used for treatment.
  • Bone Marrow Disease - Patient’s suffering from the bone marrow disease needs a bone marrow stem cell transplant to treat it. In such a case, chemotherapy sessions are performed.

These are the 10 important fact of chemotherapy sessions, which can surely change the way of looking at chemotherapy treatment and prove to be more positive. While the chemotherapy treatment may seem a little difficult initially, once you set the goal of being healthy again, every inch of effort taken to treat cancer, seems minute.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: December 4, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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