What Is Chemotherapy? Types, Risks, Treatment Cost, And All You Need To Know

What Is Chemotherapy? 

Types, Risks, Treatment Cost, And All You Need To Know Chemotherapy is the most common type of cancer treatment. And while everyone has at least heard of it, you need to be thoroughly informed if you or any of your loved ones are supposed to receive it. 

For different stages and types of cancer, the approach to chemotherapy varies. So how is this treatment plan designed? What are the different types of chemotherapy? And how much does this treatment cost in India? 

All your questions regarding the topic are answered here. Read on to know more about the types of chemotherapy, how it is administered, and their cost in India. 

How Does Chemotherapy Work? 

Chemotherapy uses a variety of drugs and chemicals, all very strong. These drugs kill the rapidly dividing cells, which is a distinctive characteristic of cancerous cells. 

But how does that work? 

The drugs used here target the cells during a certain point in their cell growth cycle. And, since the tumor cells grow the fastest and at an unnatural rate, these drugs mainly target those cells. 

However, the treatment also carries a risk of damage to healthy cells. In a typical chemotherapy treatment, the drug travels in your bloodstream and, thus, throughout the body. Hence, its effect can be seen on parts of your body other than the target sites as well. 

Types Of Chemotherapy Based On The Purpose Of The Treatment

Chemotherapy can be either the primary or the supportive treatment option. Based on your cancer treatment plan, this treatment can be used for different purposes. 

Based on this fact, chemotherapy is categorized into the following types:

1. Curative Chemotherapy

  • As the name suggests, in this case, the treatment is used to cure cancer.
  • Curative chemotherapy is a primary form of treatment. 
  • Often, a doctor suggests this procedure when the tumor cannot be removed surgically, due to any reason, but has not spread to far regions from its primary location. 

2. Chemoradiation Therapy

  • In this case, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are paired up in the treatment plan
  • The doctor will give you a personalized schedule for this treatment. 
  • The effects of both treatments are complementary and show remarkable results in shrinking the tumor by killing the cancerous cells. 

3. Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy

  • Here, chemotherapy is administered before the surgery as a preparatory step
  • In cases where the tumor covers a large area but can still be removed surgically, this method is applied. 
  • Chemotherapy drugs simply shrink the tumor so it can be removed more easily. 

4. Adjuvant Chemotherapy

  • This method is applied as a preventive measure
  • Once the tumor is removed through surgery or radiotherapy, there is still a chance of its return. 
  • Adjuvant chemotherapy is administered in such cases to prevent the recurrence of cancer. 

5. Palliative Chemotherapy

  • The main objective of this method is to ease the pain. 
  • Here, the focus is not on treating or removing cancer. 
  • Doctors suggest this treatment usually in Stage 4 cases to simply prolong the life of the patient and reduce their pain as much as possible

Types Of Chemotherapy Based On The Mode Of Administration

In chemotherapy, the drugs can be introduced into your body in several ways. Your doctor decides the mode of administration based on the location, size, and severity of the tumor, and your overall health and preferences. 

Based on the mode of administration, chemotherapy is of the following types:

1. Intravenous Chemotherapy

  • In this method, the drugs are introduced into your body via tubes inserted into your veins either through your chest, arm, or hand. 
  • This treatment needs to be done at the hospital under professional supervision and you may or may not need to stay there for some time. 

2. Chemotherapy Pills

  • Tablets of chemotherapy drugs are also available. 
  • Your doctor can give you a detailed schedule about when and how to take those pills. 
  • Although you can take the tablets at home, you’ll need to pay regular checkup visits to your oncologist. 

3. Chemotherapy Shots

  • These are injections containing chemotherapy drugs
  • To receive these, you either need to visit the hospital or an experienced medical professional would administer the injections. 

4. Chemotherapy Creams

  • These are ointments applied to the skin in some cases of skin cancer
  • It is not very common and singularly effective. 

What Is The Cost Of Chemotherapy In India? 

India offers prime-quality chemotherapy treatment at a very affordable price range. The cost of the treatment usually depends on:

  • the type and stage of cancer
  • number of sessions needed
  • the type of drug used
  • the fee of the oncologist
  • hospital/clinic service charges

Opt for a consultation meeting with your cancer care team before you start the treatment. There you can get a clear picture of the estimated cost and clear your other doubts too. 

What Are The Side Effects Of Chemotherapy? 

Chemotherapy makes use of high-power drugs. And while they are necessary to stop cancerous growth, they also harm your healthy cells in the process. While the harm done is more to the cancerous cells, your other healthy cells including hair follicles, blood cells, and skin cells also have a risk of damage. 

The most common side effects associated with chemotherapy are listed below. 

  • High risk of infections
  • Complete hair loss
  • Pain
  • Sore mouth
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Loss of appetite

The Outlook

Chemotherapy is one of the best treatment methods when it comes to cancer. While there are significant risks and side effects, the treatment is highly effective if done right. 

Make sure to talk to your doctor regarding any precautions you need to take during the treatment period. Also, if the side effects are overwhelming, you can ask your doctor for a solution or medication for the same. Be informed and trust the process! 

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