Chemotherapy, a cancer treatment, aims to kill cancer cells in order to prevent them from reproducing and spreading. The treatment is usually administered orally through tablets or injected into the vein and is used to either shrink a tumour before surgery or destroy any cells that remain after.
Chemotherapy medication is available in a variety of ways; the medication used is dependent on the type of cancer needing to be treated. In some cases more than one type of medication is used to treat the same cancer. Like most treatments, chemotherapy can have side effects. These can include:
- Feeling weak
- Hair loss
- Feeling sick
Most side effects will disappear once the treatment has been completed. Doctors should advise you on what to expect from the treatment, but if any experienced symptoms are a concern it is imperative to speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Although chemotherapy can cause unpleasant side effects, it has been shown to be a very effective treatment that has helped to save the lives of millions of people.
Cancers treated with chemotherapy include lung, breast, colorectal (colon), prostate carcinoma and melanoma (skin). Chemotherapy is not required in all cases and may not be deemed necessary if there is a low risk of the cancer reoccurring or spreading.
For further advice and support, there are online resources that provide information on the treatment, including side effects and ways of dealing with them. Online forums allow you to discuss the treatment with other patients, helping you to hear advice from others on how to deal with side effects, or how to support a relative who is undergoing cancer treatment.
- There are different types of chemotherapy treatment available
- The length of the treatment will depend on the condition
- There may be side effects, but these should disappear after completion of the treatment