What is Chemotherapy – Principle, Dosage and Disadvantages
The treatment of cancer is possible prior to the initiation of the metastasis state. It is the technical term given to the spreading of the ailment to the entire body. If diagnised early, one of the most popular techniques to counter cancer is the Chemotherapy. In the literal sense, it refers to use of chemicals in treating ailments. This article tries to understand the principle of working, dosage and demerits of this cancer treatment.
Principle of Chemotherapy:
Identification of the malignant cancer cells is the biggest challenge in the treatment of cancer. These rogue cells have three characteristics properties. They are rapid growth, invasion of healthy cells and the ability to spread to new locations.
Chemotherapy drugs target those cells in the body which have one of these cancerous properties namely, the ability of rapid growth. On seeking such cells, the drugs destroy them with the help of the potent drugs present in them.
Dosage of Chemotherapy:
Determining the dosage of the drug is not easy. If it is too low, the treatment would be ineffective and if it is high the toxicity of the chemicals can cause serious side-effects intolerable to the patient. Generally the dosage is determined taking into account the body surface area of the patient.
The drug can be given via an injection into the veins or taken orally. Depending upon the type and stage of the disease, the drug is given to the patient either on hospitalisation or on outpatient status.
Disadvantages of Chemotherapy:
Rapid growth is the property of some of the healthy cells in the body too like the cells from hair and bone marrow. The chemotherapy drug cannot differentiate between these cells with the cancer cells. As a result, patients seeking this treatment have risks of losing hair and less blood cells in their body.
There are certain cancer tumors(chunk of malignant cells) which divide slowly. For treating such types of cancer like indolent lymphomas, this therapy is not much responsive.
This drug can target younger tumors more effectively as the mechanism regulating the cell growth is still present in them. In aging tumors the regulation of cell growth is not regulated and the therapy is less responsive.
The core of cancer tumors is solid and these drugs cannot enter deep inside the core to deliver the potent chemical in the intended site of the tumor. This makes the treatment ineffective.
Research on cancer cells is revealing new facts about the properties possessed by them. A research carried out in the year 2007 has reports of the presence of pump-like structures on the surface of these cells. They are believed to remove the potent cancer drug out of the rogue cell making the complete treatment ineffective.
Liver,heart and kidney damage, vertigo, fatigue, risk of infections, bleeding profusely, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, dehydration, malnutrition, red and dry skin, damaged fingernails, dry mouth, pain, allergy, inability to concentrate and sexual impotence are some of the side effects which can appear in the patient depending upon the type and dose of the drug taken.