All About Chemotherapy – What To Expect Before, During And After Treatment

Chemotherapy stands as a transformative and life-changing option for many cancer patients, offering a beacon of hope in the face of a challenging diagnosis, thereby turning the tide in the battle against cancer. In the early 20th century, this treatment was discovered, initially not designed for cancer treatment. Within the following two decades, there was a growing adoption of combination chemotherapy regimens. The simultaneous application of drugs with diverse mechanisms of action contributed to enhanced patient survival and a steady decrease in mortality rates of cancer, a trend observed annually since 1990. This decline in death rates is attributed to advancements in both early detection methods and the administration of chemo drugs as part of the treatment strategy.

Chemotherapy involves the use of potent drugs to eliminate rapidly dividing cells within the body. Primarily employed in the treatment of cancer, this approach is effective because cancer cells exhibit a higher rate of growth and reproduction compared to most normal cells.

The survival rate for this cancer treatment varies widely and depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, overall health of the individual, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. For some cancers, this therapy can be highly effective, leading to complete remission and a good chance of long-term survival. In other cases, the effectiveness of chemotherapy may be more limited, and the prognosis may be less optimistic. However, various studies have proven the efficacy of concurrent chemo-radiation therapy (CRT) as the recommended standard treatment for medically fit patients.

Therefore, it’s vital to embrace a thorough and accurate understanding of the intricacies associated with chemotherapy before proceeding for it. In the following article, we help you understand the importance and complexities of this procedure.

What To Expect Before Chemotherapy?

How you get ready for chemotherapy depends on the specific drugs and their administration method. Your doctor will provide detailed instructions for your preparations for procedure. This may involve:

  • Inserting a Device for Intravenous Chemotherapy: If the drugs are administered intravenously, your doctor might suggest a surgically implanted device like a catheter, port, or pump in a major vein, typically in your chest, through which the drugs can be delivered.
  • Undergoing Tests and Procedures: Prior to starting chemotherapy, tests assessing kidney, liver, and heart functions may be conducted. Depending on the results, adjustments in the treatment plan may be made for safety.
  • Dental Checkup: A dentist may examine your teeth for signs of infection. Treating any existing infections is crucial to minimize complications during the procedure, as some drugs may compromise your immune system.
  • Planning for Side Effects: Anticipate and plan for potential side effects by discussing them with your doctor. Depending on the expected effects, you might consider preserving sperm or eggs, arranging for head coverings if hair loss is anticipated, and making other necessary preparations.
  • Arranging Support at Home and Work: While most therapy sessions are outpatient, making arrangements for help at home and work is advisable. Your doctor can provide an estimate of how chemotherapy might impact your daily life, but individual reactions can vary.
  • Preparing for the First Treatment: Seek guidance from your doctor or nurses on preparing for your initial session. Arriving well-rested and having a light meal before the treatment, especially if nausea is expected, can be beneficial.
  • Transportation for the First Treatment: For the initial treatment, having a friend or family member drive you may be advisable, as some medications can cause drowsiness or other side effects that may affect your ability to drive.

What To Expect During Chemotherapy?

You may expect following during the procedure:

  1. Determining the Chemo Drugs You’ll Receive

Discuss your treatment options with your doctor to collaboratively determine the most suitable approach for you. Your doctor selects the chemotherapy drugs based on various factors, including:

  • Type of cancer
  • Cancer stage
  • Overall health
  • Previous cancer treatments
  • Your goals and preferences
  1. Administering Chemo Drugs

Chemotherapy drugs can be administered in different ways:

  • Infusions: It is commonly administered through infusions, primarily intravenously. This involves inserting a tube with a needle into a vein in your arm or into a chest device.
  • Pills: Certain drugs are available in pill or capsule form, allowing for oral administration.
  • Shots: Certain drugs can be injected using a needle, similar to receiving a standard injection.
  • Creams: For specific types of skin cancer, chemo drugs can be applied topically through creams or gels.
  • Localized Treatment: Direct delivery of chemo drugs to a specific body area, such as the abdomen (intraperitoneal chemotherapy), chest cavity (intrapleural chemotherapy), or central nervous system (intrathecal chemotherapy). Additionally, these drugs can be administered through the urethra into the bladder (intravesical chemotherapy).
  • Direct to Cancer: Chemo drugs can be given directly to the cancer site, either during surgery or afterward. For example, thin disk-shaped wafers containing chemo drugs may be placed near a tumor during surgery. These wafers gradually break down, releasing the chemo drugs. Alternatively, these drugs may be injected into a vein or artery directly feeding a tumor.
  1. Treatment Frequency

The frequency of chemotherapy treatments is determined by your doctor based on the selected drugs, cancer characteristics, and your recovery after each session. Treatment schedules can be continuous or involve alternating periods of treatment and rest for recovery.

  1. Treatment Locations

The location for therapy depends on your situation and can occur:

  • In an outpatient unit
  • In a doctor’s office
  • In a hospital
  • At home, particularly when taking chemotherapy pills

What To Expect After Chemotherapy?

Your medical team, led by your doctor, will consistently assess the efficacy of your treatments. Informing your doctor about any side effects or challenges related to treatment allows them to make necessary adjustments for an improved treatment experience.

Following are some post-chemotherapy self-care tips:

  • Mouth Care:
    • Brush teeth and gums 2 to 3 times daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
    • Allow your toothbrush to air dry between uses.
    • Use fluoride toothpaste, floss gently once a day, and rinse your mouth four times daily with a salt and baking soda solution.
    • Refrain from using mouth rinses containing alcohol.
    • Use regular lip care products to prevent dryness and cracking.
  • Denture and Dental Products Care:
    • If you wear dentures, use them only while eating for the initial 3 to 4 weeks post-chemotherapy.
    • Brush dentures twice a day, rinse well, and soak them in an antibacterial solution when not in use.
  • Preventing Infections:
    • Practice safe eating and drinking, avoiding undercooked or spoiled foods.
    • Ensure water safety and follow proper food storage and cooking practices.
    • Wash hands frequently, especially after outdoor activities, touching body fluids, or using the bathroom.
    • Maintain a clean home environment, avoid crowds, and request visitors with cold symptoms to wear a mask or postpone visits.
    • Be cautious with pets, keep cats indoors, have someone else change the litter box daily, and avoid rough play to prevent infections.
    • Consult your provider about recommended vaccines and schedules.
  • Other Self-care Tips:
    • If you have a central venous or PICC line, learn proper care.
    • Take precautions to prevent bleeding if your platelet count is low.
    • Stay active by walking and gradually increase activity based on energy levels.
    • Consume enough protein and calories to maintain weight, consider liquid food supplements if needed.
    • Protect yourself from the sun with a hat and sunscreen, refrain from smoking.
  • Follow-up:
    • Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your cancer providers.
  • When to Call the Doctor:

Contact your provider if you experience:

  • Signs of infection (fever, chills, sweats)
  • Persistent or bloody diarrhea
  • Severe nausea, vomiting, or inability to eat or drink
  • Extreme weakness
  • Redness, swelling, or drainage from IV line sites
  • New skin rash or blisters
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Severe or persistent headache
  • Worsening cough or difficulty breathing at rest or during simple tasks
  • Burning during urination

What Is Cost of Chemotherapy In India?

Because of highly complex nature of this treatment, there is a significant requirement for a high level of procedural expertise and sophistication. India stands out on the global stage for its exceptional proficiency among cancer specialists, owing to their remarkable skills and access to advanced healthcare facilities. Therefore, people from around the world currently have excellent opportunities to avail services from best doctors for chemotherapy and best hospitals for chemotherapy in India.

Moreover, the cost of chemotherapy in India is quite affordable than many Western nations, while still maintaining world-class quality. The approximate price of this procedure in India ranges from ₹56,000 ($800) to ₹2,80,000 ($4,000).

To Summarize

Ensure you locate a skilled cancer specialist who can collaborate closely with you to strategize your surgery and promote a swift recovery. Trust Medflick as your reliable resource for accurate, up-to-date, and dependable information on chemotherapy or any other health-related topics. Your health and overall well-being merit nothing less than informed and conscientious guidance.

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