Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chemotherapy Cancer Treatment and Side Effects

Cancer has developed into an extremely lethal and common cause of death. With over 180,000 deaths attributed to it in the US over the last year, Cancer continues to be among the leading causes of death. However, treatments such as Chemotherapy and radiology have evolved continuously as well and offer a significant degree of cure. There are nonetheless, considerable side effects to chemotherapy cancer treatments.

Chemotherapy cancer treatments are based on specific drugs which stop the division and reproduction of cancer cells. They affect the healthy and the infected cells alike and so carry a number of side effects. It should be noted however that not all people react to the drugs the same way. Therefore, not all patients exhibit these side effects and even those that do, show varying degrees.

The main regions affected by chemotherapy cancer treatment are the sensitive areas, such as hair follicles, the lining of the mouth, skin and bone marrow. These are also the areas where cells reproduce most rapidly.

Bone Marrow is the body’s prime source of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. The side effect of stopping the production supply has severe consequences on the body since white blood cells are required to keep the immune system effective while red blood cells carry the body’s oxygen supply. Platelets are essential for stopping excessive bleeding and helping the blood to clot.

This can lead to an increased susceptibility to infections, since the body’s immune system stops working. The loss of red blood cells is also seriously counter productive since it causes less oxygen to go around the body. The patient starts to feel tired and lethargic as well as experiences dizzying spells. Chemotherapy cancer treatment also causes severe deficiency in blood platelets, which therefore reduces the body’s ability to clot blood from open wounds. This increases the risk of excessive bleeding.

Chemotherapy cancer treatment can also lead to hair loss since hair cells are among the most easily damaged ones in the body. However, they are also the most easily regenerated. The side effect of chemotherapy drugs is that the regenerative properties of the cells are subdued and thus new cells are not easily formed. This leads to continued hair loss.

Apart from these, there are other significant side effects of chemotherapy cancer treatments. These include diarrhea and constipation, inability to taste, soreness in the mouth and excessiveness dryness and similar skin problems.

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