Cancer patients are commonly treated with chemotherapy, which is related to myocardial injury and also left ventricular dysfunction (LVD). Classically, we consider two different chemotherapy drugs depending on the reversibility of the myocardial injury, although this classification is not very useful in clinical practice. Cancer patients habitually receive a “cocktail” of chemotherapy drugs, so it is sometimes difficult to determine the specific mechanism. Moreover, we know that cancer itself and also radiotherapy may induce myocardial injury.
Cancer cells have faulty DNA, a key reason why they replicate in an unregulated, abnormal fashion, clustering to the point of creating tumors. Because of this faulty DNA, cancer cells do not repair themselves and recover from harm as well as normal cells do. So chemotherapy treatment for cancer involves delivery of the anti-cancer medications in many sessions over time, with breaks to allow normal tissue cells time to recover. With multiple repetitions of drug delivery, cancer cells are harmed again and again, each time taking more damage.
Chemotherapy treatment can range from several months to years, depending on the type of cancer, the type of drug, and how the tumor responds. Most chemotherapy drugs are given weekly or monthly, but some are given daily.
Chemotherapy works on actively reproducing cells. Different drugs act on different parts of the cycle. Oncologists use different groups of drugs to act on certain parts of the cycle. The problem with chemotherapy , however, is that it also acts on normal cells that are actively reproducing. The reproductive cells tend to be the ones that are most badly affected as they are multiplying relatively rapidly. The trick is to balance killing off too many good cells along with the bad cells.
Chemotherapy is generally given intravenously or it may also be administered in pill form. This type of chemo is called “systemic” chemotherapy—it travels through the blood stream and reaches the entire body. Systemic chemotherapy carries the most side effects because it not only does the job it is meant to do—kill fast-growing cancer cells—but, unfortunately, it also kills other kinds of fast-growing cells such as hair and blood cells. Hence, many people undergoing chemotherapy treatment will lose their hair and suffer low white or red blood cell counts.
Chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biotherapy are common treatments for cancer. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), hazardous drugs is now the term used to encompass traditional chemotherapy as well as novel agents called biotherapy.
Chemotherapy works by killing cancer cells throughout the body. Sometimes it may be the only cancer treatment needed. But often, it is combined with other treatments. For example, chemotherapy may be given after surgery or radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer in the body. This is called adjuvant therapy.
Chemotherapy can be given intravenously or as a pill. It then travels throughout the bloodstream and reaches the entire body. Systemic chemotherapy carries the most side effects because in addition to killing cancer cells, it also kills other fast-growing cells such as hair and blood cells.
Chemotherapy can be used to treat mesothelioma patients in two ways. Either or both of these methods may be used in conjunction with surgery and/or radiation, depending on the treatment plan developed by the doctor and the patient.
Chemotherapy treatments are often discussed as being first-line and second-line (or even third-line) treatments. These refer to the chemotherapy treatments given first, second, third, and so on, based on their effectiveness.
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