Chemotherapy or chemo for short is a chemical methodology where cytotoxic drugs, drugs that kill cells and tissues, are administered to kill the tumor cells. Chemotherapy works on the principle of blocking or slowing the growth of cancer cells, but unfortunately sometimes chemotherapy can also harm your normal cells. It is so important to be disciplined in listening to instructions and stick to the standard guidelines given by the chemotherapist.

How chemotherapy is used?

Chemotherapy can be used alone or in combination with other therapies like radiation and surgery. Your oncologist makes sure that your tumor gets smaller and smaller by radiation and surgery and finally chemotherapy is used to completely abolish the tumor cells. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy because it kills the residual cells after surgery or radiotherapy.

Criteria for decision-making in chemotherapy

  • It varies from patient to patient depending on the type of cancer, staging and grading, and the number of organs affected.

  • Whether it is localized or metastasized.

  • Age and general health status of the patient etc.

What are the routes of chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy may be given through injection into your muscles, intra-arterial, where it is injected into your arteries, intraperitoneal for peritoneum of the stomach, or by intravenous in which veins are used. Topical application of medicated cream is also a choice for skin cancers.

Chemotherapy is a topic of concern because more than cancer pain, the chemotherapy disturbs your normal functioning. Sometimes you might feel fine with the treatment, but some might react so negatively. Dehydration, fever, skin irritation, and total sickness manifested with vomiting, uneasiness, mental agony could hinder you.

How much does chemotherapy cost?

It depends on:

  1. The types and doses of chemotherapy used

  2. How long and how often chemotherapy is given

  3. Whether you get chemotherapy at home, in a clinic or office, or during a hospital stay

Chemotherapy acts through four possible directions

  • Total remission is the utilization of a monotherapy strategy, which means except for chemotherapeutic agents, there will be no requirement for other therapies like surgery and alternative medicine.

  • Combination therapy is essential in most cases as chemotherapy fails to fight many advanced, large tumors so the therapy needs to be chemo, radio and surgical as well.

  • For prevention of recurrence it may be necessary to have chemo after 1 or 2 years of being discharged. In general it is maintenance therapy.

  • To slow the cancer progression - used mainly when the cancer is in its advanced stages and a cure is unlikely. Chemotherapy can slow the advancement of the cancer.