Goals of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is the use of medication (chemicals) to treat disease. More specifically, chemotherapy typically refers to the destruction of cancer cells.
Total remission : To cure the patient completely. In some cases chemotherapy alone can get rid of the cancer completely.
Combination therapy : Chemotherapy can help other therapies, such as radiotherapy or surgery have more effective results. In some cases it is given before surgery (Neoadjuvant therapy) to reduce the size of the tumor to make tumor more amenable to surgery.
Delay/Prevent recurrence (Adjuvant ) : Chemotherapy, when used to prevent the return of a cancer, is most often used after a tumor is removed surgically.
Slow down cancer progression (Palliative) : Used mainly to slow down the progress of cancer in its advanced stages, where a cure is unlikely.
Blood tests before and during chemotherapy treatment
- To ensure that the patients are tolerating chemo well and have minimal sideeffects
- Judge response of tumor to treatment.
Two ways of giving chemotherapy
Depending on the type of cancer, chemotherapy may be administered orally or intravenously (directly into the vein).
- • Oral chemotherapy in the form of tablets
- • Intravenous chemotherapy (straight into the vein) which may be given through.
- • A cannula : A thin tube is inserted through the skin into the vein - usually it enters the body via the back of the hand or the lower arm.
- • A drip (intravenous infusion) : In order to dilute the medication it may be injected into a bag. The solution in the bag will pass through a tube into the patients arm and into a vein (intravenous infusion). A cannula will be used. The solution will enter the vein slowly.
- • A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line : A long, thin, flexible tube that is inserted into a peripheral vein, usually in the upper arm and makes its way into a large vein in the chest near the heart. It is similar to a central line but has a different point of entry.
- • A portacath (implantable port) : A thin, soft, flexible plastic tube goes into a vein. It has a port (opening) just under the skin of the chest or arm. The port has a thin rubber disc which special needles can pass medicines into, or take blood from.