What is Chemotherapy?
It is a modality for cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is one of the three main modalities for cancer treatment. Other two are radiation therapy (using radiation to treat cancer) and surgery (removal of tumor by surgical resection).
How does Chemotherapy work?
Cancer is dysregulated proliferation of cells. Chemotherapy controls the cancer growth by killing these rapidly growing cancer cells. Unlike surgery and radiation therapy, chemotherapy acts throughout the body. Its killing effect is more on the cancer cells as compared to normal cells because they grow faster than the normal cells, and are more susceptible to cytotoxic effect of chemotherapy drugs.
Why does Chemotherapy cause side effects?
Although the cytotoxic or killing effect of chemotherapy is more on cancer cells, normal cells are also affected. More affected are those that are rapidly dividing cells in our body like in bone marrow, mucosa, hair follicles, etc. Principle remains the same, higher the cell proliferation rate, more is the cytotoxic effect of chemotherapy.
Why does Chemotherapy cause Hair Loss?
The hair follicles have one of the most rapidly dividing cells in the body. This makes them very susceptible to the cytotoxic effect of chemotherapy. Therefore, hairfall is one of the common side effect of chemotherapy.
Why does Chemotherapy cause Oral Ulcers and Diarrhea/Loose Stools?
Like hair follicles, cells in our gastrointestinal mucosa, starting from oral cavity till rectum, are also rapidly dividing, and hence, very susceptible to chemotherapy. The lysis of cells in oral cavity leads to oral ulcers /mucositis and that in the intestine may lead to loose stools (due to incomplete digestion and absorption).
Why does Chemotherapy cause Low Blood Cell counts and/or Fever?
Our bone marrow is the factory of blood cell production in our body, including RBCs, WBCs and platelets. There is very high turnover of cells, and chemotherapy affects it significantly, leading to lower cell counts. Reduced number of WBCs makes it difficult to fight against the infections, and hence may cause fever.
Is Chemotherapy Painful?
Chemotherapy administration is not a painful procedure by itself. But rarely, extravasation of the chemotherapy drug while administration may cause pain. Other indirect reasons of pain may be the side effects of chemotherapy as discussed above (like oral ulcers, infections, etc).
Can chemotherapy be given Orally also?
Yes. Many oral formulations of chemotherapy drugs are available now-a-days for various cancer types. Patients can take them from the comfort of their home and consult the doctor on a regular basis as advised.
How frequently is Chemotherapy given?
This usually depends on the treatment regimen that has been planned for the patient, which largely depends on the type and stage of cancer and other factors.
Where can I take Chemotherapy in Delhi
Dr Sunny Garg is a renowned Medical Oncologist in New Delhi with years of experience of treating cancer patients with Chemotherapy. He has been trained at premier institutes of country and has practiced in leading cancer hospitals in Delhi, and currently practicing at Manipal Hospital, Dwarka. He works in close collaboration with surgical and radiation oncologists, oncopathologists, nuclear medicine, and genetic counselors for comprehensive cancer care for the patients.
What is the Cost of chemotherapy in Delhi?
Cost of chemotherapy is determined by the treatment regimen that is planned for the patient (number of chemotherapy drugs), number of cycles of chemotherapy, whether any targeted therapy is planned with chemotherapy or not, along with other factors. It may also vary from hospital to other, especially if we compare private with government hospitals.