After surgery, chemotherapy is the most commonly used method of therapy for those diagnosed with ovarian cancer. When your physician decides it is time to begin fighting ovarian cancer with chemotherapy, the odds are good that you will have a lot of questions. First and foremost, of course, is the question as to exactly what chemotherapy will do for you and what it will do to the cancer.
Chemotherapy is a treatment option that relies on prescription drugs which only have one goal: the destruction of cancerous cells. When the chemicals are introduced into the cancer affected tissues, they will gradually slow down the spread of the cells and also the growth of the cells.
Cells that fail to grow eventually die. Unfortunately, chemotherapy does not pinpoint the cells it attacks, and therefore you healthy body cells will also suffer from the chemical attack. Cells that are primarily affected are the interior organ linings and also the cells which are directly related to hair growth.
Procedures for Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy drugs are administered orally or topically in some cases. In other cases the drugs must be given intravenously for a maximum effectiveness.
In still other cases, the physician will order the drugs to be delivered to you via an artery that has been identified as being instrumental in keeping the tumor alive. The physician understands that the direct delivery of the substances to the tumor will maximize the damage done to the cancerous cells.
It is interesting to note that chemotherapy works differently, depending on the stage of the cancer you have. The best case scenario of course is the complete eradication of cancerous cells and a healing of your body.
Failing this, chemotherapy drugs will curtail the spread of cancerous cells, keep them isolated, and hopefully destroy them sufficiently to permit your body to function normally. In the meantime they will slow down the growth of the tumors significantly. In many cases this leads to a shrinking of the tumor size and thus will work to control painful pressure inside your body.
Kinds of Chemotherapy Drugs
There are different kinds of chemotherapy drugs available and when fighting ovarian cancer with chemotherapy it is important to realize that your doctor will choose the drug cocktail that offers the most promise for your condition. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that you may not be taking the same drugs as other members of your ovarian cancer support group.
Conversely, you may be taking similar drugs but with some dosage and mixture differences. Once again, the mixing and usage of chemotherapy dosages is highly individualized and there is no “one size fits all” approach that can be used successfully.
The same holds true for the frequency of chemotherapy treatments. Depending on the type of the chemotherapy you are receiving, the staging of your cancer, your bodily reaction to the treatments, and even the reaction of the cancerous cells, your doctor may order different treatment cycles. A common cycle supposes five days of intense chemotherapy and then three weeks of time without any chemotherapy.
The goal is dual: on the one hand your doctor wants to see the effects your treatment has on the cancerous cells and tumors, while on the other hand your body desperately needs this time to heal and permit your normal body cells that are also destroyed to be replaced.
Photo: liz west via Flickr