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Patients Against Lymphoma

 

Treatments > Chemotherapy

Last update: 05/31/2013

Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs that can destroy cancer cells. Cancer cells often divide and form cells without control.  Chemotherapy agents are often used in combinations with the goal of killing cells that are actively growing. 

The three most common ways to give chemotherapy:
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Injecting them or giving through a drip into a vein ('intravenously') 

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oral (by mouth)

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Infusion pump

Less common locations for administering chemotherapy
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into muscle (intramuscular)

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under the skin (subcutaneous) 

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into an artery (intra-arterial) 

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into the fluid around your spine or brain (intrathecally) 

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into a body cavity (intracavitary) such as the bladder, chest cavity, or tummy (abdominal cavity) 

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into the tumour (intralesional or intratumoral)

Adapted from: cancerhelp.org.uk 

Recommended Resources: 

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Chemotherapy and You:
Support for People With Cancer Cancer.gov | PDF book
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Cancer Chemotherapy:
Drug Classification and Mechanism of Action pharmacology2000.com
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Recommended Technical Reading: 

General Mechanisms of Drug Action ncbi.nlm.nih.gov 
Cancer Multidrug Resistance (MDR)  nature.com  | How Chemotherapy Works Cancer.org
Chemotherapy Overview oralcancerfoundation.org 

"To understand chemotherapy, the cell cycle must first be understood. Chemotherapy is effective because the drugs used effect some phase of the cell life cycle. Each cell goes through a four phase cycle in order to replicate itself.

The first phase called G1, is when the cell prepares to replicate its chromosomes.

The second stage is called S, and in this phase DNA synthesis occurs and the DNA is duplicated.

The next phase is the G2 phase, when the RNA and protein duplicate.

The final stage is the M stage, which is the stage of actual cell division.
In this final stage, the duplicated DNA and RNA split and move to separate ends of the cell, and the cell actually divides into two identical, functional cells. "

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Questions needing answers:

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Given the cardio toxicity associated with Doxorubicin, are we near a time when doctors can 
substitute Liposomal versions of this drug, such as Doxil, for the majority of patients? 
Send comments here. Comments (confidential or otherwise) 
from medical professionals are particularly welcome and appreciated.

Overview and Terminology

Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs that can destroy cancer cells. Cancer cells often divide and form cells without control. Chemotherapy agents are often used in combinations with the goal of killing cells that are actively growing. 

... Normal cells can also be harmed by chemotherapy agents, especially normal cells that divide quickly such as hair and immune cells. These undesired actions cause side effects. See the Support & Side Effects sections for additional information.

Side effects: Each person's reaction to chemotherapy is unique. Some people have very few side effects, while others may experience more. The side effects you experience will also depend on the dose, and timing of the therapies which can vary signficantly.

"Salvage" chemotherapy is a term often applied to combinations of chemotherapy drugs used to treat NHL after relapse in which the patient is either not responsive to standard protocols, or the patient has general health consideration (allergies, lung, or heart problems) that require the use of unusual combinations of treatment agents, dosing or dosing schedules. Be aware that despite the negative connotation of "salvage," these novel treatments regimens can sometime achieve complete remissions.  Also see Refractory Disease & Drug Resistance

Low dose chemo: There has also been a growing interest in low dose oral chemotherapy as a means of reducing toxicity and improving responses. This type of regimen might be called salvage as well, but we prefer the word "novel." 
 Also see Chemo - oral low dose

Biologic agents in combination with chemotherapy: Rituxan, a monoclonal antibody often used to treat lymphomas that express CD20,  is also used in combination with chemotherapy to enhance its effects. Also see Biologics and Rituxan

Also see Background on treatment goals, types, outcomes, and interventions

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Disclaimer:  The information on Lymphomation.org is not intended to be a substitute for 
professional medical advice or to replace your relationship with a physician.
For all medical concerns,  you should always consult your doctor. 
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