Dr AvinashTank, is a super-specialist (MCh) Laparoscopic Gastro-intestinal Surgeon,

Chemotherapy

Amazing Facts about Chemotherapy

  • Historical Origins: The concept of chemotherapy dates back to the early 20th century when the German physician Paul Ehrlich first introduced the idea of using “magic bullets” to target disease-causing cells selectively. He envisioned chemicals that could selectively kill pathogens without harming healthy cells. This idea laid the foundation for modern chemotherapy.
Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_bullet_(medicine) 
  • First Successes: The first successful use of chemotherapy for cancer treatment came in the 1940s with the discovery of nitrogen mustard gas. During World War II, scientists noticed that soldiers exposed to mustard gas experienced a decrease in white blood cells. This observation led to the development of nitrogen mustard as a treatment for lymphoma and other cancers.
Source https://www3.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content=&view=article=&id=9583=&lang=en 
  • Methotrexate: Methotrexate, a widely used chemotherapy drug, was first introduced in the early 1950s. It remains a critical medication in the treatment of various cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancer, and lung cancer.
Source https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3715949/ 
  • Targeted Therapies: One of the most significant advancements in chemotherapy is the development of targeted therapies. Unlike traditional chemotherapy, which attacks both cancerous and healthy cells, targeted therapies focus on specific molecules or pathways that are essential for cancer growth. This approach aims to minimize damage to healthy cells and reduce side effects.
Source https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/targeted-therapies 

4 Reasons for Regular Cancer Screening 

  1. Early Detection: Regular screening allows for the identification of cancer at an early stage when it’s more treatable and has a higher chance of successful outcomes.
  2. Improved Survival Rates: Early detection through screening can lead to better treatment options, resulting in improved survival rates and increased chances of a cure.
  3. Risk Assessment: Cancer screening helps identify individuals at higher risk for developing cancer, allowing for targeted preventive measures and lifestyle modifications to reduce their risk.
  4. Peace of Mind: Regular screening offers peace of mind to individuals, knowing that they are taking proactive steps to monitor their health and detect cancer at its earliest stages, if present.

Complications of Untreated Cancer

  1. Disease Progression: If left untreated, cancer can continue to grow and spread to other parts of the body, making it more challenging to treat effectively.
  2. Reduced Treatment Options: Delayed treatment may limit the available treatment options, as some therapies may no longer be effective in advanced stages of cancer.
  3. Decreased Quality of Life: As cancer progresses, it can cause pain, discomfort, and other symptoms that significantly impact the individual’s quality of life.
  4. Risk of Complications: Untreated cancer can lead to serious complications, such as organ failure or life-threatening infections, which can further worsen the person’s health condition.

Celebrities who have fought cancer and won

Sonali Bendre

Bollywood actress Sonali Bendre was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in 2018. The actress had cancer treatment in the United States and returned cancer-free. She starred in several Bollywood blockbusters, including ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’ and ‘Sarfarosh.’Source https://www.outlookindia.com/art-entertainment/bollywood-stars-who-bravely-battled-with-cancer-news-82492 

Mumtaz

This evergreen Bollywood actress won many hearts with her beauty and charismatic performances in movies such as Do Raaste, Chor Machaye Shor, Aag, Khilona, Aadmi aur Insaan, Upaasna and so on. At the age of 54 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought the disease for 11 years and made sure it did not get the better of her. She was also featured in the UniGlobe Entertainments documentary on cancer survival called ‘1 Minute’.Source https://www.obesitydoctor.in/health-tips/Indian-Celebrities-Diagnosed-with-Cancer

Robert De Niro

Thanks to regular medical checkups, the actor’s prostate cancer was diagnosed at an early stage in 2003. In December of that year, De Niro had surgery, a typical treatment option when the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate gland.Source https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2014/celebrities-who-beat-cancer-photo.html#slide7 

What is Chemotherapy 

Chemotherapy is a therapeutic approach that involves the administration of powerful drugs designed to kill or slow down the growth of cancer cells. Unlike localized treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy, chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that can reach cancer cells in different parts of the body. It can be used as a primary treatment, aiming to eradicate cancer cells, or as an adjuvant therapy after surgery to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.

Procedure

Chemotherapy is administered through various routes, including oral pills, intravenous injections, or infusion through a vein. The specific drugs, dosages, and treatment schedule depend on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the individual patient’s overall health and tolerance to treatment. The treatment is usually carried out in cycles, with periods of active treatment followed by rest periods to allow the body to recover.

Mechanism of Action

Chemotherapy drugs work by targeting rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells. They interfere with various stages of the cell cycle, preventing cancer cells from multiplying and eventually leading to their death. However, chemotherapy drugs can also affect normal, healthy cells that divide rapidly, such as those in the bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract, and hair follicles, leading to side effects.

Who needs Chemotherapy 

The eligibility for chemotherapy depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, the patient’s overall health and organ function, and their ability to tolerate the potential side effects of treatment. A thorough evaluation by an oncologist or a multidisciplinary team is necessary to determine the suitability and potential benefits of chemotherapy for an individual patient.

How to prepare for Chemotherapy 

Preparing for chemotherapy is essential to ensure that you are physically and emotionally ready for the treatment. Here are some steps to help you prepare for chemotherapy:
  1. Educate Yourself: Learn about chemotherapy, its purpose, potential side effects, and what to expect during the treatment. Your oncologist and healthcare team can provide valuable information and answer any questions you may have.
  2. Choose a Supportive Healthcare Team: Select a knowledgeable and experienced oncologist and medical team to guide you through the chemotherapy process. Having a supportive team can make a significant difference in your treatment journey.
  3. Discuss Your Medical History: Inform your healthcare team about your complete medical history, including any pre-existing conditions, allergies, and medications you are currently taking. This information helps them tailor the treatment plan to your specific needs.
  4. Arrange Supportive Care: Consider seeking emotional support from family, friends, or support groups. Emotional support can be invaluable during your chemotherapy journey.
  5. Plan Transportation: Chemotherapy sessions may leave you feeling fatigued or with temporary side effects. Plan for transportation to and from the treatment facility, as driving yourself may not be ideal.
  6. Dietary Consultation: Talk to a registered dietitian to develop a nutritious and balanced diet plan that can support your body during treatment. They can also advise on managing potential side effects like nausea and appetite changes.
  7. Hydration: Stay well-hydrated before and during chemotherapy. Adequate hydration can help flush out toxins from your body and support your overall well-being.
  8. Review Medications: Discuss all your medications, including over-the-counter supplements, with your healthcare team. Some medications may interact with chemotherapy drugs, so it’s essential to ensure their safety and effectiveness.
  9. Address Dental Health: Have a dental check-up before starting chemotherapy. Dental issues can exacerbate during treatment, and it’s best to address them in advance.
  10. Arrange for Time Off: Chemotherapy sessions and potential side effects may require time off from work or other activities. Plan ahead and arrange for any necessary time off or adjustments in your schedule.
  11. Take Care of Emotional Well-being: Find healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety, such as meditation, yoga, or counseling. Emotional well-being is crucial during treatment.
  12. Consider Fertility Preservation: If you’re of childbearing age and chemotherapy may affect your fertility, discuss fertility preservation options with your doctor before starting treatment.
  13. Dress Comfortably: Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing to chemotherapy sessions, as it makes the process more manageable and reduces any irritation at infusion sites.
  14. Gather Information on Side Effects Management: Learn about potential side effects and their management strategies. Your healthcare team can guide you on how to handle common side effects effectively.
  15. Stay Positive: Maintaining a positive outlook can have a significant impact on your treatment experience. Surround yourself with positive influences and find activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
Remember, preparation is essential, but it’s also normal to feel nervous or apprehensive before starting chemotherapy. Your healthcare team is there to support you and address any concerns you may have throughout the treatment process. Be open with them about your feelings and experiences to ensure the best possible care.

Benefits of Chemotherapy

  1. Systemic Treatment: Chemotherapy targets cancer cells throughout the body, making it suitable for cancers that have spread or are at high risk of spreading.
  2. Combination Therapy: Chemotherapy can be combined with other treatment modalities such as surgery or radiation therapy to improve treatment outcomes and reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.
  3. Adjuvant Therapy: Chemotherapy after surgery can help eliminate residual cancer cells and reduce the risk of recurrence.
  4. Palliative Care: Chemotherapy can be used in advanced or metastatic cancers to alleviate symptoms, improve quality of life, and prolong survival.

Risks of Chemotherapy

  1. Side Effects: Chemotherapy drugs can cause a range of side effects, including nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, lowered immunity, and gastrointestinal disturbances. These side effects can vary in intensity and duration depending on the drugs used and the individual patient’s response.
  2. Impact on Healthy Cells: Chemotherapy drugs can affect healthy cells that divide rapidly, leading to side effects such as decreased blood cell counts, increased susceptibility to infections, and gastrointestinal complications.
  3. Resistance: Some cancers may develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs over time, leading to treatment failure.
  4. Individual Variability: The response to chemotherapy can vary among individuals, and not all patients may experience the desired benefits or complete remission.
  5. Long-term Effects: Certain chemotherapy drugs may have long-term effects on organs and tissues, necessitating ongoing monitoring and follow-up care.

What to do after Chemotherapy

After undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment, the recovery phase is essential to help your body heal and regain strength. Here are some general guidelines on what to do after chemotherapy:
  1. Rest and Recovery: Chemotherapy can be physically taxing, so give your body time to rest and recover. Allow yourself to rest when needed and avoid overexertion.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, herbal teas, and clear broths, to stay hydrated. Adequate hydration can help flush out toxins from your body and support your overall well-being.
  3. Follow a Balanced Diet: Eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet to support your body’s healing process. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your meals.
  4. Manage Side Effects: Chemotherapy may cause various side effects, such as nausea, fatigue, hair loss, and changes in appetite. Work with your healthcare team to manage these side effects effectively.
  5. Take Medications as Prescribed: If your healthcare team has prescribed medications to manage side effects or prevent infections, take them as instructed.
  6. Monitor for Complications: Be vigilant for any signs of complications, such as fever, persistent pain, or unusual symptoms. Contact your healthcare team immediately if you notice any concerning changes.
  7. Follow-Up Appointments: Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your oncologist. These visits allow your doctor to monitor your progress, assess treatment response, and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
  8. Emotional Support: Coping with cancer and chemotherapy can be emotionally challenging. Seek emotional support from friends, family, or support groups to help you navigate this journey.
  9. Gradual Return to Normal Activities: As you start feeling better, gradually return to your regular daily activities. Allow yourself time to adjust and avoid pushing yourself too hard too quickly.
  10. Practice Self-Care: Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Whether it’s spending time in nature, reading, or practicing mindfulness, self-care can help improve your overall well-being.
  11. Follow Precautions: During chemotherapy, your immune system may be weakened, making you more susceptible to infections. Follow hygiene practices, avoid contact with sick individuals, and get vaccinated as recommended by your healthcare team.
  12. Continue Supportive Therapies: Some cancer patients benefit from complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, or meditation. If you find these therapies helpful, continue incorporating them into your routine with your doctor’s approval.
Remember that each individual’s chemotherapy experience is unique, and recovery may vary based on the type and duration of treatment. Your healthcare team will provide personalized guidance and support throughout your recovery process. Always communicate openly with them about your concerns and experiences during and after chemotherapy.

Celebrity who has same disease

Sonali Bendre

Bollywood actress Sonali Bendre was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in 2018. The actress had cancer treatment in the United States and returned cancer-free. She starred in several Bollywood blockbusters, including ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’ and ‘Sarfarosh.’

Mumtaz

This evergreen Bollywood actress won many hearts with her beauty and charismatic performances in movies such as Do Raaste, Chor Machaye Shor, Aag, Khilona, Aadmi aur Insaan, Upaasna and so on. At the age of 54 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought the disease for 11 years and made sure it did not get the better of her. She was also featured in the UniGlobe Entertainments documentary on cancer survival called ‘1 Minute’.

Robert De Niro

Thanks to regular medical checkups, the actor’s prostate cancer was diagnosed at an early stage in 2003. In December of that year, De Niro had surgery, a typical treatment option when the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate gland.

Amazing Facts about Chemotherapy

 The concept of chemotherapy dates back to the early 20th century when the German physician Paul Ehrlich first introduced the idea of using “magic bullets” to target disease-causing cells selectively. He envisioned chemicals that could selectively kill pathogens without harming healthy cells. This idea laid the foundation for modern chemotherapy.(Source)

The first successful use of chemotherapy for cancer treatment came in the 1940s with the discovery of nitrogen mustard gas. During World War II, scientists noticed that soldiers exposed to mustard gas experienced a decrease in white blood cells. This observation led to the development of nitrogen mustard as a treatment for lymphoma and other cancers.(Source)

 Methotrexate, a widely used chemotherapy drug, was first introduced in the early 1950s. It remains a critical medication in the treatment of various cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancer, and lung cancer. (Source)

 One of the most significant advancements in chemotherapy is the development of targeted therapies. Unlike traditional chemotherapy, which attacks both cancerous and healthy cells, targeted therapies focus on specific molecules or pathways that are essential for cancer growth. This approach aims to minimize damage to healthy cells and reduce side effects.(Source)

4 Reasons for Regular Cancer Screening

Complications of Untreated Cancer

What is Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a therapeutic approach that involves the administration of powerful drugs designed to kill or slow down the growth of cancer cells. Unlike localized treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy, chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that can reach cancer cells in different parts of the body. It can be used as a primary treatment, aiming to eradicate cancer cells, or as an adjuvant therapy after surgery to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.

Procedure

Chemotherapy is administered through various routes, including oral pills, intravenous injections, or infusion through a vein. The specific drugs, dosages, and treatment schedule depend on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the individual patient’s overall health and tolerance to treatment. The treatment is usually carried out in cycles, with periods of active treatment followed by rest periods to allow the body to recover.

Mechanism of Action

Chemotherapy drugs work by targeting rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells. They interfere with various stages of the cell cycle, preventing cancer cells from multiplying and eventually leading to their death. However, chemotherapy drugs can also affect normal, healthy cells that divide rapidly, such as those in the bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract, and hair follicles, leading to side effects.

Who needs Chemotherapy

The eligibility for chemotherapy depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, the patient’s overall health and organ function, and their ability to tolerate the potential side effects of treatment. A thorough evaluation by an oncologist or a multidisciplinary team is necessary to determine the suitability and potential benefits of chemotherapy for an individual patient.

How to prepare for Chemotherapy

Preparing for chemotherapy is essential to ensure that you are physically and emotionally ready for the treatment. Here are some steps to help you prepare for chemotherapy:

Remember, preparation is essential, but it’s also normal to feel nervous or apprehensive before starting chemotherapy. Your healthcare team is there to support you and address any concerns you may have throughout the treatment process. Be open with them about your feelings and experiences to ensure the best possible care.

Benefits of Chemotherapy

Risks of Chemotherapy

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What to do after Chemotherapy

After undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment, the recovery phase is essential to help your body heal and regain strength. Here are some general guidelines on what to do after chemotherapy:

Remember that each individual’s chemotherapy experience is unique, and recovery may vary based on the type and duration of treatment. Your healthcare team will provide personalized guidance and support throughout your recovery process. Always communicate openly with them about your concerns and experiences during and after chemotherapy.

DR. AVINASH TANK

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