Today a friend brought forth a topic that needs some understanding; precisely, whether to accept or reject Chemotherapy treatment for cancer when recommended by a doctor. Chemo is its moniker. As always, deciding what you will do before becoming properly informed about important matters is unsound and can be detrimental. The following is basic info you need to know.
Cancers are formed when certain of a body’s cells have abnormal growth rates beyond replacement needs, producing lumps of non-functional cells which can crowd out the normal cells. Chemo both kills and slows the growth of cells, especially the faster-dividing ones.
Because all the body’s cells are affected, almost all Chemo agents have side effects, mostly in the faster growing normal cells, such as hair and blood. So, hair loss and anemia are among the side effects. Feeling bad is common, fatigue sometimes to the extreme and GI problems often are experienced as well.
There are different indications for Chemo that should be taken into account: Chemo can follow surgical removal to mop-up, be given before surgery to wither the tumor and make surgery more successful, or as a single last resort therapy. One should have little reluctance with the types associated with surgical therapy. Thus, the decision process has narrowed to last-resort therapy.
The first consideration is expectations of how one will fare if the disease is untreated; its expected “natural course” in medical terminology. What is the estimated severity of suffering and for how long? This may not be known because untreated cancers are rare but try to get estimates, IMPORTANT.
Also, how advanced is the cancer to be treated? Often medically cancers are staged one to four with four the most advanced. How does the survival with Chemo compare to symptomatic therapy? There are many different Chemo agents in different combinations and you need to know what can be expected from the specific treatments.
The specific type of cancer is important in expected results. Some cancers are curable from Chemo or favorable results can be expected and others have little or no benefit. Most oncologists strictly recognize the difference. Don’t force the issue by asking the doc to “give it a shot.” With rarer tumors go to larger referral centers. Consider going to more forefront cancer treatment centers because therapy continues to evolve in the specialty. Alternative therapies, chief among which is Immunotherapy, are in the developmental stages. Always stack the deck to your advantage. In situations concerning medical treatments, more choices Trumps. PARDON MY WORD CHOICES.
Don’t let old past experiences seen with other’s therapies in the past influence you excessively; oncological therapies have improved over time. The cost and time required for Chemo are drawbacks but should be secondary concerns. YES.
In conclusion, your consent to Chemo is provisional from the beginning. You may discontinue treatment at any time. My sister and I stopped her previously effective Chemo when it only was prolonging suffering. Ask about when the first tests to determine effectiveness will be done and consider GIVING IT A SHOT.