Chemotherapy Patient Education – Overview
Chemotherapy, or “chemo,” refers to cancer treatments that use chemicals to treat cancerous tumors. However, not many cancer patients what the treatment entails and what it means for them.
As a health practitioner, it is upon you to supply them with the right information about the treatment. Here is what you need to let them know about the same.
Chemo Can Cause Vomiting and Nausea
Some people experience these side effects for hours after therapy; others feel them on and off for days.
If a patient gets nauseated easily, ask them to let their doctor know so that they can prescribe anti-nausea medication ahead of time.
Encourage them to try ginger or peppermint tea or ginger ale, which help settle an upset stomach. They should also avoid greasy and spicy foods as well as carbonated drinks.
They can liaise with their doctor to come up with a plan for managing these side effects — but they don’t need to worry about it too much until they need it.
There’s probably nothing that patients can do to prevent nausea and vomiting completely, but if it happens early in treatment, it tends to get better soon.
Treatment may include one drug at a time, multiple drugs at once, or a combination of treatments.
How a patient reacts to chemotherapy depends on many factors, including age, general health, and the type of cancer being treated.
Cancer Cells Grow and Spread Fast
Since that is the case, chemo medications are designed to kill rapidly dividing cells, such as cancer cells.
Healthy cells also divide rapidly and grow—such as those in your hair, nails, and linings of your mouth and intestines—but chemotherapy isn’t designed to target them.
That means healthy cells can be damaged by chemotherapy, leaving you feeling tired, nauseated, or even causing your hair to fall out.
Toxicity affects every patient differently, so there is no way to predict exactly how chemotherapy will affect a patient.
Some patients receive only one round of chemotherapy while others need multiple treatments.
As a doctor, you are in the best position to determine the most appropriate dose to treat cancer while minimizing the risk of side effects.
Chemotherapy is Given in Cycles
Each cycle can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks depending on how long it takes for the drugs to work and how much of the body’s normal tissue has been affected by the disease being treated.
A cycle may consist of one drug or more than one drug given at once.
The length of each cycle depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated as well as factors like age and overall health.
Doctors may recommend that patients repeat treatment for a certain number of cycles before taking a break for some time and then resuming the treatment.
The Treatment Comes with Side Effects
Chemo can make one feel really bad; it’s considered one of the most unpleasant types of treatment.
Some people experience nausea or vomiting during treatment; others get mouth sores, diarrhea, or hair loss.
Most people will experience fatigue as well as joint and muscle aches and pains.
It’s important to let patients know what they are getting into during their first treatment cycle so that they can be prepared for what comes next.
The side effects from chemotherapy aren’t always immediate either.
Typically, a patient will feel the worst during the first few rounds of chemotherapy because their body hasn’t built up a tolerance for the medication yet.
Chemotherapy is not One Treatment
Chemotherapy is the term used to describe a range of cancer treatments that use medication, along with other treatments, to control and even destroy cancer cells.
Chemotherapy can be administered in several ways – as pills that are swallowed or injected into the body, as capsules that are implanted into the body, or as tablets that dissolve under the tongue.
The most common chemotherapy drug is called carboplatin and it’s given intravenously (directly into the vein).
Chemotherapy Doesn’t Always Work
Chemotherapy is not a cure for cancer. It’s used to prolong life or to relieve symptoms caused by the disease and its treatment. Research is being done to find better treatments that can cure people with cancer.
Knowledge is power and we believe that by telling your patients what they need to know about chemotherapy, you make it easier for yourself.
Share what we have discussed here and we assure you that it will be worth your while.
I am a dedicated healthcare researcher and an enthusiast specializing in medical grants, medical education and research. Through my articles, I aim to empower healthcare professionals and researchers with valuable insights and resources to navigate these critical aspects effectively.