Esther Juárez

Chemotherapy

What you need to know about Chemotherapy.

             To understand a little bit more about chemotherapy, it may help to know what cancer is and the way it affects the body. Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells in the body grow and multiply at a very high rate. There are more than 100 specific types of cancer cells. Cancer also may involve the spread of abnormal cells around the body. Normal cells in our body grow, divide, and die in a way that maintains health and does not damage the body. A majority for the cancer cases are due to age issues because of the fact that in adulthood your cells divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells, or in other cases, to repair injuries. Cells make up all living tissue and stronger throughout your childhood. But cancer cells continue to grow and divide, even though they are no serving in any of the vital functions, and can spread to other parts in the body. These cells clump together and form tumors (lumps) that may destroy normal tissue. If cells break off from a tumor, they can travel  throughout the blood stream or the lymphatic system. When they settle in and grow; eventually, forming other tumors. When a tumor spreads out to a new place, it is called metastasis. Even when cancer spreads, it’s called by the name of the body where it originally started and developed. Leukemia, a type of cancer growing, does not usually form a tumor, it is an exception to the rule. The cancer cells get into the blood and the organs that make blood bone narrow, then they circulate through other tissues, where they eventually develop and grow.

What is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a medical treatment that is needed in order to stop cancer cells from growing and its tracks. Chemotherapy is extremely effective in treating cancer. It is even more effective when it is used with other treatments like radiotherapy. It is also sometimes needed to relief the symptoms, and it is design to give a longer life by causing the disease to go into remission-the stage in which there are no active symptoms.  Chemotherapy works differently than surgery or radiotherapy – two other treatments designed to fight against the cancer as well. Chemotherapy drugs travel throughout the whole body. This is important because it allows the drugs to reach part of the body where the cancer cells may have spread out. In combination with surgery means that fewer surgical procedures need to be done. Follow-up surgery can often be avoided if chemotherapy is used.

On the other hand, radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is the use of high energy rays to treat such disease. Is it very important to know that radiation causes damage to cancer cells, so they stop growing. With each treatment, more of the cells die and the tumor shrinks. The dead cells break down and are carried away by the blood, eventually passing out of the body. Normal cells that are also exposed to the radiation process start to repair themselves afterwards, and the process lasts just a few hours. You might be concerned that radiation hurts, but is actually quite painless. Also, in case you are wondering, the radiation gets into your body and then passes out -it does not cause you to become radioactive.

To understand how chemotherapy works, it is helpful to know some basics about the cells of the body. Everything in your body is made up of cells. A group of cells is called tissue and tissues make up all the organs, the major structures of your body. Tissue stays healthy because cells grow and reproduce, new cells replace the ones that are damaged because of injury. This means that a combination of drugs may be used to attack cancer cells so that each drug can attack the cells in a different phase.

Chemotherapy damages cancer cells, but it also can damage normal cells. Damage to these cells is what causes the side effects of chemotherapy treatment. For instance normal cells that divide quickly, such as blood cells and the cells of hair follicles, are more likely to be damaged by chemotherapy medications. In other words, in healthy cells the damage does not last, and many only happen on the days you are actually taking the drugs. Chemotherapy is usually given in several cycles. Depending on the drug and combination, it may last to a few hours, days, or weeks.

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