Normally, cells in our bodies live, grow and die in a predictable fashion. Cancer occurs when certain cells in the body keep dividing and forming new cells without the ability to stop or control this process. Chemotherapy or “chemical treatment” destroys cancer cells by keeping them from further multiplying or by damaging them directly. While normal cells may also be affected by chemotherapy, they are able to repair the damage while cancer cells are unable to do so. Chemotherapy is used for a variety of purposes:
1.To cure a specific cancer
2.To control tumor growth when cure is not possible
3.To shrink tumors before surgery or radiation therapy
4.To relieve symptoms (such as pain)
5.To destroy microscopic cancer cells that may be present after a tumor is removed by surgery
Cancer cells are rapidly dividing cells.The mouth, intestines, skin, hair, bone marrow (the spongy material that fills your bones and produces new blood cells) are also composed of rapidly dividing cells and, unfortunately, are usually affected by chemotherapy.This is why side-effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and anemia are quite common in those receiving chemotherapy.Fortunately, advances in medicine have been such that we are able to help our patients manage these side-effects very well with medication.
There are several ways to administer chemotherapy.Most patients at our clinic have a Port-a-Cath surgically placed to receive chemotherapy infusions. This enables our nursing staff to easily access the venous system with little to no discomfort for the patient.Receiving chemotherapy itself is literally painless; many of our patients relax and take a nap, enjoy the view outside, or observe our therapeutic salt-water Coral Reef Aquarium.