Many types of cancer can be treated with chemotherapy. The purpose of treatment depends on the type of cancer and at what stage it is located. Chemotherapy is used to cure cancer by destroying all cancer cells; to reduce the risk of cancer recurring; to remove cancerous cells that are present in the body but are too small to be detected. It is important to destroy these cells in order to control the cancer (when chemotherapy is unlikely to cure the cancer but stop growing for a certain period of time) and to relieve the symptoms (reduce the size of the tumor if the size provokes any symptoms).
Chemotherapy drugs enter the bloodstream and reach every part of the body. This is called systemic treatment. Radiation therapy and surgery are called local treatments.
Chemotherapy drugs destroy the cancer cells, damaging them so that they cannot divide and grow. In addition to tumor cells, chemotherapists can also affect normal cells. Damage to healthy cells leads to side effects. Some side effects are temporary, as healthy cells multiply and grow rapidly, but there are cases in which the overall condition of the organism under conditions of stress and reduced immunity, which should be controlled at all costs and to support the healing process. Destruction of cells and tissues as a result of chemotherapy or radiation therapy results in cellular stress and secondary intoxication.
- Reduced immunity and weakening of the defense mechanisms, with the risk of easy development of viral and bacterial infections;
- Nonspecific complaints resembling malaise and pain in muscles and joints, general fatigue, loss of appetite;
- Skin problems in large areas of the body of bacterial, viral or allergic origin;
- Anemic conditions due to iron deficiency;
- Risk of blood clotting, cardiovascular complaints, fluid retention and tendency to swell.
Destruction of cancer cells by chemotherapy sometimes leads to cell death and non-mutated healthy cells. Tumors that aim to conquer new spaces are often aggressive and kill normal cells in order to enter new territories. Keeping cells functional and alive is important for stopping the spread of cancer.