This article provides a quick overview of what to expect during and after treatment of cancer chemotherapy treatment for patients.
The term chemotherapy means treatment of a disease by a medication administered either orally, intravenously.
Rarely these meds may need to be administered through the spinal fluid or into the fluid surrounding the brain.
Another route to administering chemotherapy is through the peritoneum which is the thin lining surrounding the abdominal organs.
Cancer cells are a part of the human body: therefore any chemical that kills cancer cells can also kill NORMAL cells. This killing of normal cells leads to side effects and toxicity. The killing of the cancer cells leads to the shrinking of cancer. Most chemotherapy used for cancer treatment is NOT targeted to specific cells.
Examples of drugs used to kill specific cancer targets are:
1. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors like Imatinib used to treat and cure Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML): and as a treatment for Gastro-Intestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST).
2. Rituximab a monoclonal antibody that targets the CD 20 B lymphocytes in blood and is used in the treatment of Lymphomas.
3. Making cancer therapy specific to cancer is intended for more effective and less toxic therapy.
4. Several new targets are being discovered and therapies are being developed to treat them.
Recent research has enabled us to identify specific cells and treatments are now available that target these specific cancer cells: treatment with one of these new therapies is called “targeted therapy.”