What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is a treatment that kills cancer cells that are growing disproportionately and unhealthy in your body.
Chemotherapy is a heavy and effective treatment that is mostly used in cancer patients. Considering that Cancer cells are also unhealthy and grow rapidly and damage healthy cells, you will understand that it is one of the best treatments in Cancer treatments.
It is a treatment method applied with various types of chemotherapy. Different chemotherapy can be used for each type of cancer. For this reason, it would not be correct to give information that chemotherapy is done with a single drug.
Although chemotherapy provides a successful way in cancer treatments, unfortunately, some side effects can cause serious harm to the patient. For this reason, you can get more detailed information about chemotherapy by reading our content.
To Whom Is Chemotherapy Applied?
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment used in cancer patients. Since chemotherapy is a heavy and effective treatment, it should be applied to cancer lines. However, there are some people who should not be applied in Cancer Patients;
- Patients with severe heart failure
- To patients with kidney failure
- To patients with liver failure
- To patients with compromised immune systems
- Patients with mental disorders
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is an extremely difficult treatment. Therefore, it is perfectly normal to have some side effects. The side effects that people can experience in chemotherapy treatments are as follows;
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- mouth sores
- Formation of bruises on the skin
Along with all these, patients may also experience the following, although unfortunately less frequently;
- Damage to lung tissue
- heart problems
- kidney problems
- Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy)
- Risk of developing a second cancer
The Most Common Possible Side Effects Due to Chemotherapy:
- Fatigue: It is one of the most common side effects after treatment. Fatigue can be due to a wide variety of causes, such as anemia or the patient’s sense of burnout. If the cause is anemia, fatigue can be eliminated with blood transfusion, and if it is due to psychological reasons, help from an expert can be sought.
- Nausea and Vomiting: It is one of the most worrying issues for patients before treatment. Nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy may occur immediately after treatment or a few days after the end of treatment. Sometimes, patients may experience nausea called anticipatory nausea before starting treatment. The complaint of nausea and vomiting is a situation that can be prevented or minimized thanks to newly developed drugs.
- Hair Loss: Some chemotherapy drugs can cause temporary hair loss. The degree of hair loss varies according to the type and dose of the drug taken. Generally, hair loss occurs 2-3 weeks after the start of treatment. This is a temporary process, 3-4 weeks after the treatment is completed, the hair will start to grow again.
- Decrease in Blood Values: While receiving chemotherapy, a decrease can be seen in both red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in the body. This is because the drugs suppress blood production in the bone marrow. Red blood cells are oxygen-carrying cells and in their deficiency; symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, palpitations occur. White blood cells serve in the body’s defense against germs, and when their number decreases, the person can become infected very easily. Platelets are responsible for blood clotting. Bleeding such as easy bruising, easy nose and gum bleeding can be seen in the body when the number decreases.
- Mouth Sores: Chemotherapy drugs can sometimes cause inflammatory sores in the mouth. Patients should pay attention to their oral hygiene, avoid very hot or very cold drinks, and moisten their lips with creams will minimize mouth sores. In addition, an opinion can be obtained from the attending physician for additional treatments in oral wounds.
- Diarrhea and Constipation: Depending on the type of chemotherapy drug used, patients may experience diarrhea or constipation. These complaints can be eliminated with diet and various simple drug treatments. However, sometimes diarrhea is much more severe than expected, and it may be necessary to take fluid support from the intravenous line. In such a case, the following doctor should be informed.
- Skin and Nail Changes: Some chemotherapy drugs can cause symptoms such as darkening of the skin, peeling, redness or dryness, darkening of the nails and easy breakage. In this case, irritant substances such as cologne and alcohol should be avoided. Dressing can be done with warm water and simple moisturizers can be used. These complaints are usually not serious and improve over time, but if the current symptoms are severe, the following doctor should be informed.
How and Where Is Chemotherapy Given?
The way chemotherapy drugs are administered in the body can be in different ways. Currently, four different ways are used in treatment:
- By mouth (oral). Medicines can be taken orally in the form of pills, capsules or solutions.
- Through a vein (intravenously). It is the most commonly used method of chemotherapy drugs. It is the application made by adding drugs to the serum or by giving them directly into the vein with an injector. In general, the veins on the arms and hands are used for this procedure. Sometimes different instruments such as ports, catheters and pumps can be used in intravenous treatment.
- By injection. Medications can sometimes be given by direct injection into the muscle (intramuscular) or under the skin (subcutaneous). Another injection method is the administration of the drug directly into the tumor tissue (intralesional).
- Externally on the skin (topical). It is the application of the drug directly on the skin from the outside.
- Chemotherapy drugs can be administered at home, in a hospital setting, or in private centers. Where the treatment will be applied, the way the drug is given; The general condition of the patient is decided according to the preferences of the patient and his doctor. The application to be made in the hospital can be done in inpatient or outpatient chemotherapy units.
Is Chemotherapy a Painful Treatment?
The patient does not feel pain while the chemotherapy drug is given. However, sometimes the chemotherapy drug can leak out of the vein from the area where the needle is inserted. This can cause complaints such as pain, redness, burning and swelling in the area where the drug is attached. In such a case, the treating nurse should be informed immediately and chemotherapy should be stopped until they are sure whether the vascular access is in place, otherwise the escape of the drug out of the vein may cause serious tissue damage in that area.
Nutritional Recommendations for People Receiving Chemotherapy Treatment
People receiving cancer treatment should eat extremely healthy and consume foods that will strengthen their immune systems. For this reason, it is absolutely necessary to take a dietary supplement. Since chemotherapy has side effects such as loss of appetite and weight loss, it is extremely important that patients receiving chemotherapy should not be fed.
Some patients undergoing cancer treatment may not like the taste of oil and fatty foods. In such cases, you should consume high-protein and low-fat foods such as fat-free or low-fat yogurt, cheese, eggs and lean meat.
In order to increase calorie intake, you can consume 100% fruit and vegetable juices and dried fruits.
- You should consume a lot of meat products.
- You should drink as much water as possible.
- Instead of taking 3 meals a day, you can have 5 meals in smaller portions.
- If you can’t taste the food, use plenty of spices, this will open your appetite.
- Take care to consume vegetables and fruits
- You can watch something while you eat. This allows you to eat more enjoyable.
- Be sure to carry some snacks with you. When you are hungry, you can eat immediately.
Is Chemotherapy Expensive?
Unfortunately, chemotherapy treatments can be expensive according to the countries you prefer. Considering the USA, the monthly charge for chemotherapy treatment will be at least €8,000. If it is higher, it is possible to pay 12.000 €. This is well above the average income. For this reason, patients often prefer different countries to receive treatment.
Among these countries, they often prefer Turkey. In Turkey, the low cost of living together with the extremely high exchange rate allows patients to receive treatments at extremely affordable prices.
On the other hand, considering that Turkey is at least as successful as USA in cancer treatments, getting treatment in Turkey will be an advantage, not an obligation.
Chemotherapy Waiting Times
You should know that in many countries there are waiting periods for chemotherapy treatments. These periods can be long due to the large number of patients or the small number of surgeons. Unfortunately, in the USA you have to make an appointment months before you receive chemotherapy. For this reason, most patients were able to receive successful treatments without waiting by getting treatment in Turkey instead of the USA.
You should also know that there is no waiting period in the treatment of cancer patients in Turkey. Compared to the USA, Turkey is ahead in cancer treatments. For this reason, you may prefer Turkey to receive chemotherapy. You will be able to save both financially and you will be able to get treatment without waiting. However, you should not forget that the success rates are high.
Does Chemotherapy Harm People?
You know that chemotherapy is a very heavy treatment. For this reason, of course, there are many harms. Although the damage often starts after the treatment and decreases within days, unfortunately, it can harm people permanently. Among these harms are the following;
- irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia
- Heart disease
- congestive heart failure
- Valvular heart disease
- Decreased lung capacity
- An increase in scar tissue called pulmonary fibrosis
- Inflammation in the lungs
- Dyspnea (difficulty breathing or shortness of breath)
- Cognitive Problems
- Side Effects Related to Mental Health
- Nerve Damage
Which Chemotherapy Drugs Will I Take?
Not everyone gets the same type of chemotherapy. There are many drugs specifically designed to treat cancer. Your doctor will decide which drug(s), dose and schedule is best for you. This decision is based on the following important factors:
- type of cancer
- location of cancer
- Cancer development stage
- How are normal body functions affected?
- general health
- How does chemotherapy affect your other medical conditions?
How Chemotherapy Affects Daily Life
Although various unpleasant side effects occur in patients while receiving chemotherapy, many patients continue their lives without serious restrictions in their daily lives. In general, the severity of these side effects varies according to the type and intensity of the drugs taken. The general condition of the patient, the prevalence of the disease and the symptoms caused by the disease can also affect this process.
While receiving chemotherapy treatment, many patients can continue their working lives, but sometimes, if fatigue and similar symptoms occur after treatment, the patient may spend this period resting by restricting his activities. Although there are some complaints related to the treatment, these patients do not need to isolate themselves from the society and make serious changes in their daily lives.