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Understanding the value and promise of chemotherapy treatment.

chemotherapy treatment
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Scary. Daunting. Overwhelming. The word "chemotherapy" can stir up a lot of emotions. In the same way, chemotherapy can bring up a host of feelings. At Sierra Nevada Cancer Center, we view chemotherapy in a very different light. We view it as our strongest ally in the fight against cancer.

Chemotherapy is one of the most effective, yet misunderstood, treatments for cancer available today. It has proven a highly effective in In the medical battle against cancer, few breakthroughs have claimed as many victories as chemotherapy. Scientific advances and skillfully administered treatments have made chemotherapy more comfortable than in years past.

One of our patients remarked that having a breast cancer center in Carson City for her treatment was a huge relief for her and her family as they hate going to hospitals.

At Sierra Nevada Cancer Center, we are able to use chemotherapy to not only improve life expectancy, but to ensure a more pleasant experience during treatment. Our caring medical professionals are skilled both at treatments and at treating people right and our facilities have been carefully designed to help make your experience with us as comfortable as possible.

Is chemotherapy always the answer?cancer chemotherapy

While breast cancer chemotherapy, prostate cancer chemotherapy, and chemotherapy for lung cancer have all been very successful treatment protocols, chemotherapy is not always the right treatment option. Most of the patients referred to us by their doctors are probably chemotherapy candidates. However, through evaluation, we will always confirm prior to treatment that cancer chemotherapy is the best choice for your situation.

What to expect

Sierra Nevada Cancer Center is specifically designed to make your treatment relaxing and comfortable. You should wear comfortable clothes for your visit. Our private rooms feature comfortable reclining chairs and TVs. Our wonderful nurses will monitor you throughout your visit. There is a cozy waiting room with complimentary beverages for your family and loved ones.
 

THE CHEMOTHERAPY TOOL
 
Chemo kills cancer cells. These drugs can af-fect normal cells, too, but most normal cells can repair themselves.
 
There are more than 100 chemo drugs used today. Oncologists choose certain drugs based on the kind of cancer and its stage. 
Chemo may be used to:
  • Keep the cancer from spreading
  • Slow the cancer’s growth
  • Kill cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body
  • Relieve symptoms such as pain or blockages caused by cancer
  • Cure cancer

Treatment often uses multiple chemo drugs that work together to kill more cancer cells. This is called combination chemotherapy. Sometimes chemo is the only cancer treat-ment needed. More often, it’s part of a treatment plan that can include surgery and radiation therapy. Most chemo drugs are administered intrave-nously in a hospital or clinic. Chemotherapy can also be given as a pill or liquid, a shot, or topically.

CHEMO SIDE EFFECTS

Can chemotherapy have unpleasant side effects? Yes. But it is still the most impor-tant and successful cancer-fighting tool we have. Because chemo drugs are designed to kill any fast-growing cells, some normal, healthy cells can be damaged leading to side effects. When side effects are particularly bad, the chemo dosage may be reduced or the time between treatments increased. For most people, side effects go away after their treatment ends, but response varies for each person. 

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Bone marrow changes
  • Mouth and skin changes
  • Fertility problems
  • Memory changes
  •  Emotional changes
  • Some may have an allergic reaction to chemotherapy with more serious effects
     

WHAT’S NEW IN CHEMOTHERAPY

Several exciting new uses of chemotherapy and other agents hold even more promise. New drugs, new combinations of drugs, and new delivery techniques are helping doctors cure or control cancer and improve the qual-ity of life for people with cancer. There are many expected advances in coming years; here are just a few:
  • New classes of chemotherapy medicines and combinations  of medicines are being developed.
  • New ways to give the drugs are being studied, such as using smaller amounts over longer periods of time or giving them continuously with special pumps.
  • Some newer medicines, called targeted therapies, are designed to attack a particular target on cancer cells. These drugs may have fewer side effects than standard chemotherapy drugs and may be used along with them. Several are now being studied, and many are already being used.
  • Other approaches to targeting drugs more specifically at the cancer cells –such as attaching drugs to monoclonal antibodies – may make them work better and cause fewer side effects. Monoclonal antibodies, which are special types of proteins made in the lab, can be designed to guide chemotherapy drugs directly to the cancer cells. A number of these are being studied and some are available through clinical trials. A couple of monoclonal antibodies that deliver radiation to the cancer cells have already been approved.
  • Monoclonal antibodies (without attached chemotherapy) can also be used as immunotherapy drugs, to strengthen the body’s immune response against cancer cells. A number of these types of drugs have been approved, and more are being studied.
  • Liposomal therapy uses chemotherapy drugs that have been packaged inside liposomes (synthetic fat globules). The liposome helps the drug penetrate the cancer cells more selectively and decreases possible side effects (such as hair loss and  nausea and vomiting). Examples of  liposomal medicines already being used  are Doxil® (the encapsulated form of  doxorubicin) and DaunoXome® (the encapsulated form of daunorubicin).
  • Chemoprotective agents are being developed to protect against specific side effects of certain chemotherapy drugs. For example, dexrazoxane (Zinecard®) helps prevent heart damage, amifostine (Ethyol®) helps protect the kidneys, and mesna protects the bladder.
  • Some new agents may be given along with chemotherapy to help overcome drug resistance. Cancer cells often become resistant to chemotherapy by developing the ability to pump the drugs out of the cells. These new agents inactivate the pumps, which allows the chemotherapy to remain in the cancer cells longer, which might make it more effective.

Source •  Cancer.org