What exactly is chemotherapy? Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses chemicals to treat a disease especially breast cancer. Using chemotherapy to treat breast cancer has its advantages and disadvantages. Chemotherapy can leave a patient with some unwanted side effects.
Side Effects From Chemotherapy
Not every person will experience the same side effects. One person may experience several if not all. It all depends on the regimen you are on such as the amount of medication you are given and the time length. Some of the most common side effects include: loss of hair, anemia, fatigue, diarrhea, fertility issues, loss of memory, infection, menopause, changes of the nails, throat and mouth sores, nausea, vomiting, vaginal dryness, changes in weight, taste and smell.
With these symptoms your doctor can prescribe a medication to alleviate some of the pain. More serious complications from chemotherapy could happen such as heart problems, bone loss and vision problems.
The side effects a breast cancer patient has from starting chemotherapy are only temporary and will subside after treatment is finished. Though some side effects could be more long lasting and take several months or possibly longer to completely go away.
Advantages Of Chemotherapy
There are some advantages for chemotherapy in breast cancer. It can help prevent the cancerous cells from spreading throughout your body. The chemotherapy also can help shrink large tumors thus making your surgery afterwards less invasive. Another advantage a patient can have is a relieve of any side effects they had been experiencing before treatment.
How Is Chemotherapy Administered?
Chemotherapy is given a number of different ways. It can be given orally by mouth in a pill, tablet, capsule or liquid form. This is absorbed either by underneath the tongue or through the stomach. Chemotherapy can also be given through a shot injection. The needle used is short and similar to the ones that diabetics use to inject their insulin.
The most common form of administering chemotherapy is through an intravenous injection. The patient will be given an IV in their arm which allows for the medication to enter the blood stream rapidly. The doses given in the IV can be done over a few days or a few weeks.
A permanent option for chemotherapy uses a port-a-catheter that is inserted under a person's skin on their chest. It takes around one hour for the placement of the port-a-catheter with it lasting anywhere from three to five years. A person can feel the device through their skin by touching over the chest area.
How long will chemotherapy last? The length of time for chemotherapy all depends on various factors, from the type of cancer, to what stage it is in, to the types of drugs that will be given. The chemotherapy is given in cycles which allows for the medicine to work to destroy the cancer at its most vulnerable.
The chemotherapy may be repeated on a weekly basis, every two weeks or every month. A breast cancer patient maybe given one single drug or a combination of several different drugs on a particular day or spread over the course of several days. Treatment can last minutes, hours or days.
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