Chemotheraphy for cancer - what you may not know
Since we still don't quite know what causes cancer, treatment is not as advanced as one might think.
Some people seem to die of the chemo rather than the cancer (and chemo is not cheap - it costs $5000 per treatment).
When I asked one medical provider about this, his answer was "Cancer isn't a pretty death either".
An oncologist told the husband of a friend, when she had died after being administered "cysplatin" chemo, that 50 percent of people given this type of chemo die. Cysplatin is the same type of chemo given to Lance Armstrong which saved his life.
It's an ongoing dilemma. We have many types of chemotherapy today but they all basically work the same. Cancer cells grow very fast and these chemicals target any fast growing cells in the body (which is why they can also kill the cells your body is growing to renew organs).
Two chemicals are given. One to break up the tumor of fast growing cells and the other to kill the cells so they move out of the body. The problem here is in the moving operation, this can spread the cancer to other organs (and often does).
Radiation is also given for cancer. In radiation, the tumor is targeted but the strength of the radiation may injure surrounding cells.
Lately there are many oral medications which can be given for cancer - these do not cure it but keep it under control for years. Because of that, some providers consider cancer to be a "chronic Illness".
Whether or not to get chemo should be decided on a case to case basis and probably using several opinions.
Here are some examples:
Bottom line - think and decide carefully - make sure you know the possible toxic side effects and that the benefits of any treatment you and your medical provider choose, outweigh the risks.
Current research is on agents which actually target ONLY the cancer and also on using bacteria to look for the cancer. It's exciting research but only in its infancy. If we don't blow ourselves up in the future, these might actually deliver a cure for cancer some day.