Chemotherapy is a form of systemic treatment of cancer. This means that this type of therapy affects the entire body, getting into the bloodstream.
Chemotherapy - this is a very effective method for treating tumors, because these chemotherapy drugs have a greater impact on the fast-growing cells it is characteristic of cancer. However, this fact affects other cells, characterized by rapid growth and development: the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract (oral cavity, stomach, intestines), hair follicles and cells of the hematopoietic system. This explains the side effects of chemotherapy.
The purpose of chemotherapy, as well as other types of systemic therapy - exposure to all the cancer cells that are present in the body. This distinguishes it from the methods of local effects (eg, radiotherapy), in which the effect turns out to be a part of the body.
Side effects - one of the unpleasant aspects of chemotherapy, but they can be controlled and mitigated through medication.
It is important to understand that chemotherapy in each case may vary, so do not be surprised if one patient chemotherapy alone, and you are different. It depends on many factors, such as the degree of involvement in the lymph nodes, tumor size, hormonal status of the tumor, the degree of differentiation and expression of an oncogene.
So you picked up with your doctor the most appropriate chemotherapy regimen. And you are ready to begin treatment. But you still have so many questions!
What to expect from treatment? How long will the chemotherapy? Can I be treated at home? What are the possible side effects? Do they get worse over time? Can I still work? What if I live alone? Can I travel? Someday it will end? All these questions can and should ask your doctor and medical staff.
Let's delve into the biology of cells - cytology. The cells of our body are constantly dividing. Some of them quickly and every day, and some more slowly. But in any case, this process of division and cell growth is under strict control. In contrast, cancer cells divide and grow rapidly and uncontrollably - the main difference between the tumor cells from healthy cells.
Chemotherapy drugs stop the growth and proliferation of cancer cells, thereby killing them. However, you may ask - what about the effect of chemotherapy on healthy cells? Yes, these cells are also to some extent respond to it, but not all, but only those that are growing rapidly (we have already mentioned). But chemotherapy drugs are best for those cells that divide and grow very quickly - and this is the cancer cells. Therefore, chemotherapy is very effective especially in the ratio of cancer cells.
Chemotherapy - a comprehensive treatment of the important stages of breast cancer, and not only this type of tumor. It can be used before surgery to reduce tumor size, and after it, in order to prevent recurrence and metastasis of tumors.
The use of chemotherapy after surgery is important - prevention of recurrence of the tumor. The fact that no date and accurate technique that is not yet able to identify individual clusters of tumor cells, separated from the primary tumor. These cells can be in any area of the body. Therefore, chemotherapy, acting destructively on these cells, significantly reduces the risk of tumor recurrence.
Chemotherapy is carried out in cycles. The cycle of chemotherapy - time during which you will receive chemotherapy. The required number of cycles of a full course of chemotherapy. Depending on what you are getting chemotherapy, this course may consist of 4 to 7 cycles.
Chemotherapy drugs are divided into the following categories:
Alkylating agents. These means the mechanism of action similar to radiation: they destroy the proteins that control the development of the genes of tumor cells. The most prominent representative of this category of drugs - cyclophosphamide. He is represented by the letter C in such combinations as TSAF, CMF, TSEF and FAZ. The drug is injected intravenously or given orally (by mouth).
Antimetabolites. These drugs are a kind of "cheat" a cancer cell, incorporating into its genetic apparatus, and then in cell division caused her death. One such drug is 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), as well as the newest chemotherapy drugs - Gemzar (gemcitabine). Antibiotics. Not to be confused with traditional antibiotics, anticancer antibiotics. The mechanism of action is to slow (ingbirovanie) division genes (replication). The most famous of this group of chemotherapy drugs - Adriamycin. More often combined with adriamycin tsitoksanom (cyclophosphamide). Adriamycin belongs to the anthracycline.
Taxanes. This class of agents acting on microtubules. This class includes paclitaxel and docetaxel, although in the future may be other drugs or taxanes, which have functional properties resembling the properties of the taxanes. In general, the effect of these drugs is that they promote the assembly of microtubules from tubulin dimers and stabilize microtubules by preventing their depolymerization. It interferes with the dynamic process of restructuring of microtubules in the cell, which is important for normal cell division, especially cancer.