Chemotherapy according to Cancer types
Chemotherapy for Stomach Cancer
Chemotherapy (chemotherapy) uses anti-cancer drugs that are either pumped into a vein, or given through the mouth as tablets. These medicines enter the bloodstream and reach every part of the body, making it useful for cancer that has spread to organs beyond where it originated.
Chemo can be used in different ways to help treat stomach cancer:
Chemo can be given to treat Stomach Cancer before Surgery. It is known as neoadjuvant treatment. It may shrink the tumour, and can make Surgery possible. It can also help to prevent the cancer from returning and to help patients live longer. Neoadjuvant chemo is one of the preferred treatment methods for certain stages of the Stomach Cancer. Chemo is then also given again following Surgery. Chemo can be given to treat cancer following Surgery. This is called adjuvant therapy. The adjuvant chemo’s purpose is to destroy any cancer cells that could have been left behind but are too small to be seen. That can help to prevent the cancer from returning. Sometimes, chemo is provided with Radiation therapy after Surgery for Stomach Cancer. This combination is called chemoradiation. This may be especially helpful for cancers that could not be removed completely by Surgery. Chemo can be given to distant organs as the primary (main) Treatment for Stomach Cancer that has spread (metastasised). It can help shrink the cancer or delay its development, which can ease some patients’ symptoms and help them live longer.
Doctors give chemo in cycles, with each treatment period followed by a rest period giving the body time to heal. Every period usually lasts for a couple of weeks.
Several chemotherapies can be used to treat stomach cancer, including:
- Fluorouracil, often given along with folinic acid
- Trifluridine and tipiracil, a combination drug in pill form
These drugs may be used alone or together with other Chemotherapy or targeted drugs depending on the situation (including the stage of the cancer, the overall health of the person and whether chemo is combined with radiation therapy).
Side effects of chemotherapy
Chemo drugs kill rapidly dividing cells, which is the reason why they function against cancer cells. Yet certain cells in the body, such as those in the bone marrow (where new blood cells are made), mouth and intestine lining, and hair follicles, often break quick. Chemo can affect these cells too, which can lead to side effects. The type of side effect depends on the form of drug, the quantity taken and the length of treatment. Short term side effects common to most medications for Chemotherapy can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Increased chance of infection (from a shortage of white blood cells)
- Bleeding or bruising after minor cuts or injuries (from a shortage of platelets)
- Fatigue and shortness of breath (from a shortage of red blood cells)
Such side effects are typically short-term and will go away once therapy is complete. Generally hair grows back after treatment ends, for example. Make sure to mention any side effects you encounter to the cancer care team because there are many ways to reduce them. You may get medications for example to avoid or develop Nausea and Vomiting.