Cancun Oncology Center at Hospital GaleniaCancun Oncology Center at Hospital Galenia

CHEMOTHERAPY

WHAT IS CHEMOTHERAPY?

Chemotherapy is a treatment applied to patients diagnosed with cancer, and within these treatments is “systemic treatment” which means that it travels through the blood stream and is distributed throughout the body. There are certain parts of the body that are less penetrated by the some chemotherapy drugs, such as the central nervous system, and in the case of males, the testicles.

The action targets for chemotherapy are cells with a high-speed duplication, which is the specific case of cancer cells, where growth rate is completely uncontrolled and very high. This destructive action is not unique to malignant cells, since it is not possible to make this difference, which is why it also destroys healthy cells that have high growth rate as: skin, hair, nails, mucous membranes (from the mouth to the anus); and these are the main reasons for complications or side effects of treatment.

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What are the treatment goals?

Since it is a systemic treatment, there are very precise indications for chemotherapy, such as: in metastatic disease (disseminated), in order to reach all sites of disease or early stages, it is used to help prevent relapse or recurrence of cancer after treatment such as surgery and/or radiotherapy, which is essential to keep the disease under control.

Before surgery or radiation therapy to reduce the size of tumors, known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

After surgery or radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells that persist; this is known as adjuvant chemotherapy.

  • As the only treatment, for example, to treat blood cancers or lymphatic system cancers. These include leukemia and lymphomas.
  • For cancer that reappears after treatment, called recurrent cancer.
  • For cancer that spreads to other parts of the body, called metastatic cancer: palliative chemotherapy.

WHERE IS CHEMOTHERAPY ADMINISTERED?

At Cancun Oncology Center we apply chemotherapy in specific areas known as infusion rooms. Our spacious and comfortable room has 10 seats specifically designed for chemotherapy application. It’s a naturally illuminated area with a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, television and WiFi.

HOW IS CHEMOTHERAPY ADMINISTERED?

Intravenous chemotherapy (I.V.). Many chemotherapy drugs are injected directly into a vein. Doctors call it intravenous chemotherapy or I.V. The treatment takes from a few minutes to a few hours.

Oral Chemotherapy. It can be a tablet, a capsule or liquid. Some of these medications are given daily and some less often. For example, a drug may be administered every day for four weeks, followed by a two-week break.

HOW LONG DOES THE CHEMOTHERAPY LAST?

Doctors generally administer chemotherapy with pauses, so that the patient has time to rest and the body can recover before the next treatment. These pauses allow healthy cells to recover from the effects of medications and grow back. For example, you can receive a dose of chemotherapy the first day and then have three weeks of recovery before repeating treatment. Each three-week period is called a treatment cycle. Several cycles make up a chemotherapy course. The number of cycles is specific for each patient and each type of tumor, this should be discussed directly with the doctor once the treatment objectives are explained.

YOUR CHEMOTHERAPY PLAN

You and your Cancun Oncology Center Oncologist will decide which drug or combination of medications you will receive. The medications, dosages, and timing of your chemotherapy treatment depend on many factors:

  • The type of cancer.
  • The size of the tumor, its location and whether it has spread (the clinical stage of the disease).
  • Your age and overall health.
  • How well you can cope with certain side effects.
  • Previous treatments against cancer.

Before starting chemotherapy, it is the shared responsibility of the Medical Team, patient and family to evaluate the benefits and risks of treatment.

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF CHEMOTHERAPY?

Like most medications, chemotherapy drugs have side effects. It is easy to confuse these side effects with cancer symptoms. Different drugs have different side effects in the short and long term. Not all chemo drugs cause all side effects. Chemotherapy usually damages the cells that divide quickly, like the mouth, intestines, skin, hair, and bone marrow. Hair grows all the time. Skin is constantly renewed. The same happens with the walls of the mouth and the digestive system. The cells in these tissues constantly divide to produce new cells, which make most side effects last only for the duration of the treatment.

REMEMBER THE FOLLOWING POINTS IN RELATION TO THE SHORT AND LONG-TERM SIDE EFFECTS OF CHEMOTHERAPY:

  • Talk about side effects with your healthcare team.
  • If you are worried about a side effect, call your doctor.
  • Most of the side effects do not cause lasting damage and will gradually disappear when the treatment ends.
  • If you do not have side effects, this does not mean that the treatment is not working.
  • Chemotherapy has very few long-term side effects.
  • Most are short term.

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