Cancer treatment is considered by many to be worse than the disease. However, science has made progress to avoid that these therapies do not have as many side effects. Every patient reacts differently to chemotherapy, and therefore its potential side effects vary from patient to patient. The idea that people have of cancer is extreme thinness, baldness, prostration, and sadness. Because of these imaginary assumptions, many are more afraid of cancer treatment than of the disease itself. While that has been the image that the media and Hollywood movies have created, today’s reality is very different.
Now cancer patients have more opportunities and tools to overcome or cope with the disease in a less painful way than 20 years ago. Oncologists today indeed have the same tools as in the past: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The treatment decision is in these specialists’ hands, who will advise patients the most appropriate treatment depending on the stage of cancer, the organ involved, or any other considerations. But all these treatments today are much more effective in eliminating the tumor, prolonging patients’ lives, and guaranteeing the best possible quality of life during therapy. Let’s check all about it in this article!
Harmful Treatments – Myth or Reality?
Pharmacological treatments are the ones that generate the most fears. These drugs are not only known to kill cancer cells but can also affect healthy tissue. This happens because traditional chemotherapy works by attacking multiplying cells rapidly, but to such an extent that it also damages healthy cells that also reproduce quickly. This is the case of blood cells so that the patient may have fatigue or infections. Chemotherapy can also damage the cells of the mucous membranes in the body, such as the mouth, throat, and stomach, leading to pain, diarrhea, and other digestive system problems. Complications can also occur in the cells that produce hair, which is the reason for baldness in these patients.
But the truth is that today chemotherapy represents almost 70% of treatments. It has very high toxicity but with proven effectiveness! According to experts, the myth that chemotherapy is worse than the disease occurs because people are not clear that cancer is not a single condition, but many diseases that have different treatment depending on the organ where it occurs. The most common tumors, such as lung or breast, have aggressive therapies, and that is why people believe that medication for everyone is just as harmful.
Treatments to Treat Treatments
Furthermore, each patient reacts differently to chemotherapy, and therefore its potential side effects vary from one patient to another. Although oncologists have used the same type of drugs for five decades, better tools have been developed to control the discomfort and side effects of these treatments in the past ten years. So, to alleviate chemotherapy’s side effects, it has been proven that, by changing the frequency of the doses or the time intervals, the tolerance to the treatments can be better while remaining just as effective and even less toxic. Some specialists have also tried combining therapies, for example, chemotherapy with targeted therapies.
Less Harmful Therapies Available!
And although some 20 years ago, chemotherapy was the only tool available against cancer, today, there are other less toxic and more targeted and effective therapies. There are protective drugs that take care of healthy tissues and help manage side effects like nausea, general discomfort, and even hair loss in a better way! For example, to control the effects of radiotherapy, there are radio-protective drugs that are applied before the sessions to protect the treated tissues. In the case of hair loss, researchers from the UK looked at the benefits of cooling the scalp to prevent hair loss. It is essential to be clear that these options are an open matter for research and carry side effects, so it is crucial to inform yourself well before deciding to use them.
Keep Track of Your Experience
Experts point out that it is important to tell your doctor what you are experiencing in detail to get relief from symptoms. One idea is to keep a diary to record all your feelings and discomfort, treatments duration, and the time of day they occur. It is convenient to record its intensity and how daily activities are affected by these side effects if you have pain. Optimal quality of life during treatment will depend on this good communication.