A combined chemotherapy based on the use of several anticancer agents is often used, in order to counteract the tumor’s resistance to single drugs. Furthermore, chemotherapy is increasingly associated with “intelligent” therapies, such as those that aim at a specific molecular target, or with hormone therapy or immunotherapy.
More and more precise chemotherapyAlthough considered less “smart” than new therapies that target a more specific target, chemotherapy is still a vital part of cancer treatment and is constantly evolving. The purpose of chemotherapy research is to make these treatments more effective and less toxic.
Many studies are trying to develop predictive tests to predict a little more precisely which patients will benefit from chemotherapy and which will not, saving unnecessary side effects to those who would have no advantage.Another novelty concerns the so-called chronotherapy or the effect of the time of administration on the therapies.
An article published in 2017 in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences explains, for example, that administering chemotherapy drugs at specific times of the day has already helped to improve the tolerability of the treatment and its effectiveness against the disease.
Many other studies on the subject are underway.What should I know about the side effects of chemotherapy?The side effects of chemotherapy vary according to the type of anticancer drug, the dose and the way it is administered.
Furthermore, each individual responds differently to the various chemotherapy drugs: not all people develop the same side effects, some patients may develop few or even none.While the side effects can be unpleasant, it is good to keep in mind the benefits of chemotherapy.
In fact, the need to eliminate the tumor is more urgent than to avoid some unwanted effects, which are often temporary.Just as it is good to inquire about the benefits of therapy, it is useful to ask the doctor about the extent and severity of the side effects that it entails.
The doctor may prescribe, along with the chemotherapy, some drugs that help prevent or control side effects.Read alsoDeepeningDiabetes and cancer exchange careRead the articleNews from the worldLung and heart, two birds with one stone?Read the articleDaniele Finocchiaro new CEO of the AIRC Foundation
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How long do the side effects last?Most of the side effects disappear once the therapy is finished, because the cells no longer exposed to the chemotherapy resume dividing normally. This is the case of alopecia, or hair loss: in some cases it occurs after the first treatments, but within a few weeks from the end of the treatment the hair begins to grow back.
Some effects on the digestive system, such as constipation, diarrhea, or mouth mucosal ulcers, also tend to resolve after cessation of treatment. Recovery times vary from person to person and depend on various factors, such as general health and the type of drug used.