I once worked in a hospital where my department (mammography) was located in the same building as the infusion center, where patients with different kinds of cancers came to get chemo therapy. Some patients who took the treatment were heavy smokers and wouldn't quit even after being diagnosed with cancer. They would take breaks and come down pushing their IV poles along with them to have a smoke. Looking at those patients used to make me sad to a point where I was tempted to approach them and find out if they had any interest at all in life and if they did, why they still smoked. We also had a support center in the first floor where those patients who lost their hair were donated wigs to wear. Since working in the breast center and meeting with so many of my own patients who have had breast cancers, I always wanted to learn more about the different treatments. Chemo therapy is one such treatment given for different kinds of cancers depending on the severity of the disease.
Chemo refers to chemicals that bond with and kill the tumor cells if explained simply. Chemo therapy is the therapy given to cancer patients that supplies drugs to every part of the body via different portals such as intravenous, intramuscular or oral. Chemo therapy is also called systemic treatment, since it reaches all the body parts whether it is bone marrow or blood cells or organs. Chemo therapy is usually given to patients in outpatient settings unless the patient is unable to move or take the treatment. It is given in cycles with recovery periods in between each treatment. The chemo drugs act as inhibitors to the rapidly growing and multiplying cancer cells. They help stop cells from multiplying abnormally in the body. Chemo drugs attack cancer cells as they enter through the blood stream. They are designed to target cells that divide and grow out of control. As they combat these cancer cells the drugs retard the growth. Therapy is decided upon according to the type of cancer the patient has, the toxicity of the drug, and the patient's body weight.
Side effects of the chemo therapy depend on the drugs and doses that are given.