Chemotherapy is the use of certain drugs to kill off cancerous or rapidly growing cells in an individual’s body. Chemotherapy is utilized the most in the treatment of cancer because the disease is characterized by rapidly growing and multiplying cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy can also be used to treat non-cancerous conditions that require a bone marrow transplant, and in disorders where an individual’s immune system is overactive. In terms of treatment for cancer, chemotherapy may be used to ease problematic symptoms, to cure cancer without the use of other treatments, to prepare a patient for other treatments, or after the use of other treatments to kill leftover cancer cells. Different types of chemotherapy drugs are used based on an individual’s type and stage of cancer, overall health, personal preferences, and previous cancer treatments. Chemotherapy drugs may be administered through intravenous infusions, injection into a muscle, oral pill or capsule, and topical creams.
How The Treatment Works
There are over one hundred different chemotherapy drugs that may be used to treat a patient’s cancer independently or in combination with other treatments. These drugs work by targeting cells in different stages of the cell cycle. The cell cycle is the process a cell goes through to divide itself into two daughter cells. Because malignant cells multiply at a much faster rate than healthy cells, most of them are undergoing the process of division and multiplication at any given time in the progression of cancer. Certain chemotherapy drugs are able to target cells in a specific stage of the cell cycle, so specialized doctors are able to use a strategic combination of them to kill as many cancerous cells as possible. The main caveat of chemotherapy drugs is they are not able to distinguish if the cells within their target cell cycle stage are malignant or healthy. Carefully monitored and coordinated chemotherapy treatment overseen by a specialized physician will maintain a balance between the eradication of cancerous cells and the conservation of healthy cells.
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