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Frequently Asked Questions About Chemotherapy

Frequently Asked Questions About Chemotherapy

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Frequently Asked Questions About Chemotherapy

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What is chemotherapy? My surgeon has told me that he removed the cancer. Why do I need chemotherapy? How does chemotherapy work? If I receive chemotherapy, will I be free of cancer for the rest of my life? How is chemotherapy administered? Do I have to go to the hospital to receive chemotherapy? Will chemotherapy make me sick? Will I lose my hair? How long does chemotherapy treatment take? Can I continue to take my vitamins, herbs and medicines prescribed by other doctors? Can I start or continue to exercise while receiving chemotherapy? How do I know if the chemotherapy treatments are working? Can I be with people who are ill while I am receiving chemotherapy? Should I be on a special diet? Will chemotherapy interfere with my dental treatments? Is it true that chemotherapy will make me very tired and that foods will taste terrible? Will I be able to have a baby during or after chemotherapy treatment? Is it safe to have sex during treatment? Can I safely use alternative therapies while undergoing chemotherapy?

What is chemotherapy? Chemotherapy involves the utilization of a variety of medications that can be given either orally or intravenously. The purpose of the chemotherapy is to either treat existing malignancy or hopefully prevent a malignancy from recurring. Chemotherapy is administered with different schedules and methodologies, depending upon the malignancy being treated and the types of drugs being given. Each of these different regimens can be associated with it's own set of side effects and toxicities. Why do I need chemotherapy? It would be more accurate if surgeons would say they have removed

Chemotherapy drugs are selected which are more selective for cancer cells than for normal cells. such as the lung or abdominal cavities. we know from experience that in some cases residual microscopic cancer may be present. However. once you have been cancer-free for five years. For the most part. One depends upon the individual sensitivity of the individual patient. the majority of chemotherapy infusions and treatments are accomplished with very little. Will chemotherapy make me sick? Reactions to chemotherapy are dependent upon two primary factors. the chemotherapy may be administered directly into a body cavity. Your doctor and nurse will discuss with you the possibilities of hair loss. The purpose of giving chemotherapy in many cases is to attempt to eradicate malignancy that we can't see. Do I have to go to the hospital to receive chemotherapy? No. circumstances. Fortunately. but underlying all the activity of the chemotherapy drugs is some propensity for the drug to interfere either with the growth or life cycle of the malignant cells. the likelihood of a relapse becomes significantly smaller. Will I lose my hair? Hair loss associated with chemotherapy is entirely dependent upon the individual medication. will I be free of cancer for the rest of my life? Unfortunately. However. there are very effective medications available to diminish the chances of developing nausea or vomiting. patient discomfort."all visible or detectable cancer". In fact. How is chemotherapy administered? Chemotherapy can be administered by a variety of routes. there is no guarantee that chemotherapy will always prevent the regrowth of cancer. or lung disease that may make outpatient therapy too risky. However. in some instances. for many cancers. If I receive chemotherapy. However. we unfortunately see late cancers develop as a consequence of chemotherapy. There are selective programs that do require hospitalization because of the intensity of the treatment programs or because of co-existing risk factors. if any. such as heart. How long does chemotherapy treatment take? Chemotherapy treatments can last just a few minutes or as long as a week. which have commonly been associated with chemotherapy. most of the outpatient chemotherapy regimens are . the medications are given intravenously. In rare. How does chemotherapy work? Different drugs work by different mechanisms. most chemotherapy regimens are given as an outpatient. some chemotherapy drugs are very effective when given by intramuscular injection or orally in the form of pills or capsules. The other factor is the type of drug being given. For most intense regimens. renal.

Is this true? It is true that during the course of chemotherapy some patients will experience the onset of fatigue. it is best to avoid anyone who has an obvious illness. Will chemotherapy interfere with my dental treatments? For the most part. However. especially any respiratory infections such as a cold or influenza. these will be discussed with you on an individual basis. herbs and medicines prescribed by other doctors? Your physician will review your medications and make sure there are no problems related to conflicting drugs. but for the most part this is accomplished by follow-up blood tests. there are no special dietary requirements while undergoing chemotherapy. My friends tell me that chemotherapy will make me very tired and that foods will taste terrible. you should continue with your regularly prescribed medicines. Can I be with people who are ill while I am receiving chemotherapy? In general. Obviously. It is common to have alteration of taste while undergoing chemotherapy and many patients feel their food takes on a "metallic" taste.accomplished within a few hours. but this needs to be discussed with each patient on a case-by-case basis. Also. if your white count becomes low. This generally occurs after multiple treatments rather than after the first one. such as salads. However. x-rays. each patient is going to differ in how their response to treatment will be measured. and is more of a cumulative effect. and scans. it is a reversible process and recovers once chemotherapy is . many patients will not experience any fatigue at all. Can I continue to take my vitamins. your physician may recommend that you avoid raw foods. Can I start or continue to exercise while receiving chemotherapy? Patients are encouraged to continue to engage in active physical exercise and pursue their normal lifestyle as much as their disease and symptoms will allow. At times you may have a very low resistance to infection. all elective dental procedures are best postponed until the chemotherapy is completed. that could be contaminated with bacteria. again. This. many of the malignancies that are being treated by themselves cause fatigue. Should I be on a special diet? Generally speaking. is dependent upon the drugs being administered and individual patient idiosyncrasies. If any restrictions on exercise. However. this should be discussed with your doctor concerning the optimum timing of the dental procedures. or other activities are necessary. For the most part. How do I know if the chemotherapy treatments are working? Response to treatment is generally measured by improvement in either measurable tumor masses or by improvement in blood tumor markers. If this does occur. if dental work needs to be accomplished. and staying away from large crowds of people will be recommended. diet.

that is not a known fact. the oncologist would prefer that you do not take alternative substances. Be sure to discuss this very important issue with your oncologist. or who would like information about it. how advanced it is and a person’s general health. Can I safely use alternative therapies while undergoing chemotherapy? Alternative therapies are generally untested and unproven. Chemotherapy is a treatment to destroy cancer cells with medicines. July 2011. This is also true for many hormonal manipulations done for breast cancer. For the most part. . it is completely possible to have a healthy and normal sex life while receiving chemotherapy. and if this is the situation in your case. and their effect when mixed with chemotherapy is not really known or understood. There are more than 90 chemotherapy medicines available that can be used in a variety of ways according to the type of cancer. This factsheet is for people who are planning to have chemotherapy as a treatment for cancer. but certainly many patients do. be sure to notify your physician of the fact that you are taking alternative medications. Alternative therapies are not given in standardized fashion and the toxicities and problems associated with concurrent chemotherapy have not been defined.M. While it is probable that alternative therapies will not interfere with treatment. However. Chemotherapy    Information Common questions Resources Published by Bupa’s Health Information Team. there may be special circumstances where your oncologist may recommend that intimacy would be best postponed until the clinical situation has improved. Is it safe to have sex during treatment? Unless special circumstances are present. This page was last modified on 03/13/2001 07:43:37 A.suspended. Will I be able to have a baby during or after chemotherapy treatment? It is a general recommendation that women not become pregnant during the period of receiving active chemotherapy.

It’s used to treat solid tumours (cancerous lumps) affecting organs such as the breast or bowel. a number of different health professionals are involved in your treatment. for example some cancers are very sensitive to chemotherapy treat cancer that has spread from where it first started The type of chemotherapy medicine you have will depend on a number of factors including:      the type of cancer where the cancer started what the cancer cells look like under a microscope whether the cancer has spread to other parts of your body your general health Preparing for chemotherapy In most hospitals. You may have chemotherapy to:     shrink a cancer before surgery or radiotherapy stop a cancer coming back after surgery or radiotherapy treat a cancer on its own. surgery or hormonal. The length of your chemotherapy depends on the type of cancer you have.Your care may differ from what is described here as it will be designed to meet your individual needs. psychologist and physiotherapist may also be involved in your treatment. as well as blood cancers such as leukaemia. Chemotherapy medicines can stop cancer cells dividing and reproducing. It can be used on its own or alongside other treatments such as radiotherapy. It’s important that you discuss your chemotherapy with your doctor. A dietitian. Your healthy cells can repair the damage caused by chemotherapy. biological and immune therapies. Your doctor will explain why you’re having chemotherapy and how to prepare for your treatment.      About chemotherapy Preparing for chemotherapy What happens during chemotherapy? Recovering from chemotherapy What are the risks? About chemotherapy Chemotherapy is used to destroy many different types of cancer at various stages. but cancer cells can’t and eventually die. how much it has . pharmacist. An oncologist (a doctor who specialises in cancer care) and a specialist nurse will usually oversee your chemotherapy.

You can take chemotherapy tablets or apply creams at home. or MRI scan Your height and weight may also be checked to work out the right dose of chemotherapy for you. whereas injections or infusions are usually given in hospital. CT scan. You may have a number of tests before. Other ways of having chemotherapy medicines include:      injections into the area around your spinal cord (intrathecal injection) injections into a muscle – usually your thigh or buttocks (intramuscular injection) injection under your skin (subcutaneous injection) injections into an affected body cavity such as your bladder (intracavity chemotherapy) creams for skin cancers If you’re having intravenous chemotherapy. during and after your chemotherapy. during and after your chemotherapy. benefits and any alternatives to chemotherapy. severity of side-effects and how successful the treatment is. This is your opportunity to understand what will happen. Most commonly chemotherapy is given through a drip into your bloodstream (intravenous chemotherapy) or as tablets or capsules that you swallow. Your doctor will discuss with you what will happen before.spread through your body. However. which you may be asked to do so by signing a consent form. This will help you to be informed. so you can give your consent for the treatment to go ahead. types of medicine used. What happens during chemotherapy? Chemotherapy medicines can be given to you in different ways. and you can help yourself by preparing questions to ask about the risks. These may include:      blood and urine tests – to check your blood count (the number of various blood cells in your blood) and how well your kidneys and liver are working blood pressure checks an ECG or echocardiogram – to see how well your heart is working lung function tests – to see how well your lungs are working an X-ray. medicines are given to you through a drip into your bloodstream and can be given through:    a small tube in a vein in your arm or the back of your hand a thin tube inserted through the skin of your chest into a main vein near your heart (central line) – this can be left in for many months so medicines can be injected through it a thin tube placed into a vein in the crook of your arm and threaded through until it’s in a vein near your heart (a PICC – peripherally inserted central catheter line) – this can also stay in place for many months . some people may be able to have chemotherapy at home.

Recovering from chemotherapy Your doctor or nurse will advise you on what to expect after chemotherapy and the side-effects you may have. mouth ulcers or changes in your sense of taste numbness or ‘pins and needles’ in your hands and feet breathlessness . However. Your doctor will explain the treatment to you. tiredness often prevents people from working full-time or doing their usual levels of physical activity. including:        tiredness feeling sick or vomiting diarrhoea thinning of hair or hair loss sore mouth. but any cells that divide rapidly. to allow your body to recover. particularly after you have just had treatment (see our common questions for more information). for most people chemotherapy can have an impact on everyday life.  a thin tube put into a vein ending in an opening (port) just under the skin on your arm or chest (called an implantable port or ‘portcath’) – medicines are passed via needles through the port an infusion pump – this is a portable pump that attaches to a PICC line or a central line and feeds in the correct dose of chemotherapy over a period of time Chemotherapy will usually be given as several sessions. cells that produce hair and those lining your mouth and digestive system. In particular. Damage to these healthy cells may produce possible side-effects. Chemotherapy doesn’t only target cancer cells. You may have a number of cycles depending on how well your cancer is responding to chemotherapy. Ask your doctor to explain how these risks apply to you. What are the risks? There are some risks associated with chemotherapy. We have not included the chance of these happening as they are specific to you and differ for every person. You will then have a rest period. which could be anything from a few days to several weeks. Treatment and rest periods make up a cycle. Some people manage to continue with their lives as usual during and after chemotherapy. These may take between 30 minutes and a few hours at a time. Take things at your own pace and don’t overdo it. This includes those in your bone marrow and skin. Side-effects Side-effects are the unwanted but mostly temporary effects of a successful treatment. A small number of people even feel better as the symptoms of their cancer decrease.

Snow underwent surgery to remove a growth in his abdominal area. 2008 Former White House press secretary Tony Snow died in July 2008 at the age of 53. In 2005. Your doctor will be able to give you more information about this. can make the contraceptive pill less effective. so it’s important to discuss your specific treatment with your doctor. Most Cancer Patients Die of Chemotherapy Andreas Moritz. For some women it brings on early menopause. such as sickness and diarrhoea. Women shouldn’t try to become pregnant during treatment because the chemotherapy medicines may damage a developing baby. You may be offered the opportunity to store eggs. embryos. Two years later (2007). sickness can be reduced by taking antisickness medicines alongside your chemotherapy. It’s important that you discuss these risks with your doctor before you start the treatment. July 23. Many side-effects can be controlled using other medicines. Snow had his colon removed and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer. Your risk of developing leukaemia years later will vary depending on how much chemotherapy you have. ovarian tissue or sperm for future fertility treatment (see our common questions for more information). Different chemotherapy medicines cause different side-effects. near the site of the original cancer.  skin changes – your skin may become dry or discoloured changes in hearing – some people get tinnitus (a ringing sound in your ears) Side-effects vary greatly between the different types of chemotherapy and from person to person. Some chemotherapy medicines can affect your fertility. The side-effects of chemotherapy. For example. Treatment with certain chemotherapy medicines can slightly increase your risk of developing a type of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukaemia in later life. Your doctor will discuss the possible side-effects of your specific treatment with you. following a series of chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer. “This is a very treatable .

thus perpetuating the myth that it is only the cancer that kills people. Apparently. and also impaired his immune system -a perfect recipe for growing new cancers. Ocean was dead wrong. Allyson Ocean. turned gray and lost his hair. he still looked healthy and strong. a gastrointestinal oncologist at Weill Cornell Medical College. He actually looked more ill than someone who has been bitten by a poisonous snake. are able to work and live full lives with quality while they're being treated. although they knew he didn’t have a colon anymore. not the treatment.Buy Flowers Online condition. but chemical poisoning does. isn’t it likely that your body becomes overwhelmed by the poison and. Dr. of course. In actual fact. The media headlines proclaimed Snow died from colon cancer. Did the cancer do all this to him? Certainly not. The mainstream media. looked frail.” But of course we now know. If you are bitten by a poisonous snake and don’t get an antidote for it. he started to develop a coarse voice. Anyone who looks at this as a death sentence is wrong. But after a few weeks into his treatment. Cancer doesn’t do such a thing. “Many patients. cannot function anymore? Before Tony Snow began his chemo-treatments for his second colon cancer. the colon surgery severely restricted his normal eliminative functions. Snow’s body developed new cancers in the liver and other parts of the body. thereby overburdening the liver and tissue fluids with toxic waste.” said Dr. therefore. The previous series of chemo-treatments inflamed and irreversibly damaged a large number of cells in his body. still insist Snow died from colon cancer. Does the mainstream media ever report about the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows . Nobody seems to raise the important point that it is extremely difficult for a cancer patient to actually heal from this condition while being subjected to the systemic poisons of chemotherapy and deadly radiation. the malignant cancer had “returned” (from where?) and “spread” to the liver and elsewhere in his body. Now unable to heal the causes of the original cancer (in addition to the newly created ones). because of the therapies we have.

chemotherapy has zero benefits in the five-year survival rate of colon cancer patients? Or how many oncologists stand up for their cancer patients and protect them against chemotherapy treatment which they very well know can cause them to die far more quickly than if they received no treatment at all? Can you trustingly place your life into their hands when you know that most of them would not even consider chemotherapy for themselves if they were diagnosed with cancer? What do they know that you don't? The news is spreading fast that in the United States physician-caused fatalities now exceed 750. An investigation by the Department of Radiation Oncology. many doctors no longer trust in what they practice.3% contribution of chemotherapy to cancer survival does not justify the massive expense involved and the tremendous suffering patients experience because of severe.3% in Australia and 2. M. This fact has been documented for over a decade. selling chemotherapy as a medical treatment (instead of a scam). Northern Sydney Cancer Centre. Australia.17(4):294. toxic side effects resulting from this treatment.000 to . for good reasons. showed startling results: The overall contribution of curative and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adults was estimated to be 2. Perhaps.1% in the USA.] The research covered data from the Cancer Registry in Australia and the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results in the USA for the year 1998.3%. is one of the greatest fraudulent acts ever committed. With a meager success rate of 2..” . and no less than that in the USA.” [Royal North Shore Hospital Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 2005 Jun.. Women with breast cancer are likely to die faster with chemo than without it.. By comparison.D. The average chemotherapy earns the medical establishment a whopping $300.Alan Levin. “Most cancer patients in this country die of chemotherapy.. Yet doctors still use chemotherapy for these tumors.000 each year. colon or lung cancers. a mere 2. The current 5-year relative adult survival rate for cancer in Australia is over 60%. Chemotherapy does not eliminate breast. into the contribution of chemotherapy to 5-year survival in 22 major adult malignancies.

A recent search turned up exactly zero reviews of Abel’s work in American journals. that is. Abel came to the conclusion that the overall success rate of chemotherapy was “appalling. It took Abel several years to collect and evaluate the data. Abel contacted 350 medical centers and asked them to send him anything they had ever published on chemotherapy.S.000 each year. Ulrich Abel from the Tumor Clinic of the University of Heidelberg. It’s no surprise that the medical establishment tries to keep this scam alive for as long as possible. the pharmaceutical companies. are used to practically commit genocide in the U. given the enormous vested interests of the groups that sponsor the media. including chemotherapy drugs. In 1990. Dr. thus making it unacceptable. which was published on August 10.$1. The mainstream media has never reported on this hugely important study. The truth of the matter would be far too costly for the pharmaceutical industry to bear. should have alerted every doctor and cancer patient about the risks of one of the most common treatments used for cancer and other diseases. neither doctor nor patient is willing to give up on it.” According to this report. Abel’s epidemiological study. which is hardly surprising. there was no scientific evidence available in any existing study to show that chemotherapy can “extend in any appreciable way the lives of patients suffering from the most common organic cancers. conducted the most comprehensive investigation of every major clinical study on chemotherapy drugs ever done. and has so far earned those who promote this pseudo-medication (poison) over 1 trillion dollars.000. If the mass media reported the truth that medical drugs. He also reviewed and analyzed thousands of scientific articles published in the most prestigious medical journals. the highly respected German epidemiologist. I believe this is not because his work was unimportant -but because it is irrefutable. and the . even though it was published in 1990. 1991 in The Lancet. In his paper. He describes chemotherapy as “a scientific wasteland” and states that even though there is no scientific evidence that chemotherapy works.” Abel points out that chemotherapy rarely improves the quality of life.

as the previously mentioned research has demonstrated. Unfortunately. By contrast. They neglect to tell their patients that there is no correlation whatsoever between shrinking tumors for 28 days and curing the cancer or extending life. is doing the exact opposite.world. the body can still cure itself. with the full knowledge that there are no benefits at all. Cancer is more a healing response than it is a disease. And sometimes. refer to the FDA’s definition of an “effective” drug. Chemo-therapy can give the patient lifethreatening mouth sores. this healing response continues even if a person is subjected to chemotherapy (and/or radiation). their best sponsors (the pharmaceutical companies) would have to withdraw their misleading advertisements from the television media. It attacks the immune system by destroying billions of immune cells (white blood . one which achieves a 50% or more reduction in tumor size for 28 days. Although the drug treatment comes with the promise to improve the patient’s quality of life. and their unsuspecting patients believe that “effective” equals “cure. The side effects of the treatment can be horrendous and heartbreaking for both patients and their loved ones. and newspapers. all in the name of trustworthy medical treatment. The “disease” is the body’s attempt to cure itself of an existing imbalance. of course. Temporary tumor shrinkage through chemotherapy has never been shown to cure cancer or to extend life. you can live with an untreated tumor for just as long as you would with one that has been shrunken or been eliminated by chemotherapy (or radiation). magazines. while wrecking their immune system. Many doctors go as far as prescribing chemotherapy drugs to patients for malignancies that are far too advanced for surgery. Chemotherapy has never been shown to have curative effects for cancer. radio stations. But neither group wants to go bankrupt. the chances for a real cure are greatly reduced when patients are treated with chemotherapy drugs. which it actually tries to do by developing cancer. In other words.” The doctors. Yet they claim chemotherapy to be an effective cancer treatment. it is just common sense that a drug that makes them throw up and lose their hair.

The sad thing is that chemotherapy does not cure 96% to 98% of all cancers anyway. liver disease. infections. and rapid aging. The new additional drugs now given to many chemo patients may prevent the patient from noticing some of the side effects. You can literally feel the energy being zapped from every cell of your body -. but they hardly reduce the immensely destructive and suppressive effect of the chemotherapy itself. pain disorders. brain diseases. One long-term side effect is that these patients' bodies can no longer respond to nutritional or immunestrengthening approaches to cancerous tumors. Conclusive evidence (for the majority of cancers) that chemotherapy has any positive influence on survival or quality of life does not exist. With no energy. and this reduces oxygen availability to the 60-100 trillion cells of your body. All of this may explain why cancer patients who do not receive any treatment at all. chemo-therapy has become a leading cause of treatment-caused diseases such as heart disease. By permanently damaging the body’s immune system and other important parts. you may think that feeling tired is just part of the disease. a common side effect of most chemotherapy drugs. Chemo drugs can dramatically decrease your red blood cell levels. If you have cancer. To promote chemotherapy as a treatment for cancer is misleading. Feeling unusually tired is more likely due to anemia. Chemo-caused fatigue has a negative impact on day-to-day activities in 89% of all patients.a physical death without dying. have an up to four times higher remission rate than those who receive treatment. The drugs can slough off the entire lining of their intestines. Remember. to say the least. there can be no joy and no hope. intestinal diseases. diseases of the immune system. This rarely is the case. Its deadly poisons inflame every part of the body.cells). cancer . Before committing themselves to being poisoned. the reason chemotherapy can shrink some tumors is because it causes massive destruction in the body. and all bodily functions become subdued. The most common side effect experienced among chemo patients is their complete lack of energy.

Back to top ACMA Home | ACMA Treatment | ACMA Cancer Treatment | Contact Us | Fudan University Copyright © 2011 American Chinese Medicine Association (ACMA). . you will know they are lying or are simply misinformed. As Abel’s research clearly demonstrated. All rights reserved.patients need to question their doctors and ask them to produce the research or evidence that shrinking a tumor actually translates to any increase in survival. there is no such evidence anywhere to be found in the medical literature. If they tell you that chemotherapy is your best chance of surviving. Subjecting patients to chemotherapy robs them of a fair chance of finding or responding to a real cure and deserves criminal prosecution.

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