Chemotherapy – Not everything you know about it is true!


Battling cancer is a very scary experience- for patients as well as their family members. Many tests, multiple opinions, various course of treatments and so on. There are many options available but lack of knowledge leads to confusion and eventually, threat about the treatments. Chemotherapy is one of the most common treatments for cancer. However, there are still many patients and their near ones are reluctant to go for it because of many misconceptions. Here are some of the common chemotherapy myths busted.

  1. I must be critically ill if doctor has suggested chemotherapy.

That would have been true a few decades back when it could mean a very poor health condition. However, nowadays chemo is suggested as a supplementary treatment and given after a primary treatment e.g. surgery or a radiation therapy. It is usually suggested to prevent cancer recurrence.

  1. Chemo is a very hectic process.

Nowadays chemo drugs are given through various ways depending on the patients’ need and the condition. Most of the times, the drugs are given through a needle or a catheter. But it can also be given in a liquid or pill form which you can take at home.

  1. Everybody loses their hair.

This is one of the biggest fears anyone has while going through a chemo. However, it’s not really true. With latest chemo drugs, losing hair is becoming uncommon.  Hair loss happens due to the damaged hair follicles which, most of the time is a side effect of the chemo drugs. However, new medications are developed in a way to minimize this effect.

credits- thespiritscience.net/
credits- thespiritscience.net/
4. Chemotherapy only kills cancer cells.

In medical terms, chemotherapy is often referred as cytotoxic (cell-killing) treatment. These drugs are devised to hamper the growth of the cells by attacking their DNA that fosters their growth. However, these drugs also attack the cells which grow in irregular manner, which are not always cancer cells. Thus side effects are seen.

 5. Chemotherapy is same for all.

Chemotherapy is becoming more customized according to the patient’s needs. It is not a standard treatment. There are varieties of therapies used in combination with other medications. It is not a similar treatment for one and all. E.g. two men with lung cancer might not receive the same treatment.

6. Chemo causes high-level of nausea.

Earlier, it was very common amongst patients undergoing chemotherapy to experience nausea. It was one of the major side effects earlier. However, with new anti-nausea drugs like Zofron & Kytril, the symptoms are effectively controlled. It even allows patients to go home after the treatment unlike the earlier days when recovery time was needed.  It is recommended that patients should take meals at short intervals rather than traditional ‘three meals a day’ option

7. Chemotherapy is very painful.

Earlier, it was true. But chemotherapy drugs are so advanced now that there are very negligible or very less side effects- but pain is not the one of those. Nowadays it’s a rare case that patient is admitted to hospital for overnight stay after the treatment.

8. If I’m not sick, the chemo must not be working.

It is the mindset of some patients that if any treatment is not hurting/ causing pain to them; it is not effective. Not just chemo, but otherwise too. However, it is not true. Some people experience side effects of the therapy while others don’t. But lack of side effects does not mean that the treatment is not working.

credits- blogs.sheknows.com
credits- blogs.sheknows.com
9. I won’t be able to have children after chemotherapy.

Chemo can cause a huge effect on pregnancy and it is indeed a complicated decision whether to or not to conceive while receiving chemo. It can cause complications. It is not true that conceiving during chemotherapy is not possible. However, it is strongly recommended that you talk to your specialist about the options before starting the treatment.

10. Chemotherapy makes patient toxic.

The medications used in chemo are indeed very powerful and can prove toxic if not administered correctly. But that does not mean that it makes you toxic. Many people, out of ignorance think that the person undergoing chemo should use different rooms and toilets. That is not true. Chemo does not make patient untouchable.

It is always great to be well-informed. Especially when it concerns ours and our loved ones’ health.

 

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Liquid Biopsy – A Path Breaking Weapon Against Cancer


Liquid Biopsy

As the medical field is making great advancements with regards to technology and treatments, the tests are narrowing down to more easier yet micro level. Cancer tests have also become more specific and advanced and the perfect example is Liquid Biopsy.

Liquid Biopsy is a new, non-invasive technique that detects disease biomarkers released by tumour in blood, urine or other bodily fluids. When cancer spreads,it sheds cells and DNA fragments in the blood. Datar Genetics Ltd. has developed this technique for finding cancer cells, RNA from exosomes and tumour DNA fragments in the blood. In this method, you get similar information from a simple blood test which you would have to otherwise get from a tissue sample obtained from the regular invasive biopsy. Conventional biopsies taken from tumor sites may suffer from biased results due to tumour heterogeneity whereas liquid biopsy is free from such biases.

Liquid Biopsy targets one of the following:-

  1. Free circulating nucleic acids.
  2. RNA expression and fusion transcripts.
  3. Circulating tumour cells.
  4. Multiple DNA abnormalities
  5. Tumour Emboli
  6. Insertions and deletions
  7. Trans-locations and chromosomal abnormalities
  8. Point mutations

LB2

You should consider Liquid Biopsy when:-

  1. Enough tissue cannot be obtained from the initial invasive biopsy.
  2. Cancer starts in a place that is difficult to access by surgical biopsy.
  3. Cancer spreads to brain, bone,lung or other difficult to biopsy locations.
  4. Recurrence of cancer post initial tumour removal.
  5. Patient isn’t responding to treatment the way you expect.
  6. The patient doesn’t want a repeat biopsy.

In Cancertrack – Liquid Biopsy by Datar Genetics Limited, capturing and detecting CTCs, exosomes, ctDNA and other bio-markers has an important predictive and therapeutic implication. Detection of tumor DNA has clinical utility in risk stratification in early cancer, in early detection of relapse and in monitoring the response to treatment.

This test has two types- A prognostic test may indicate the outcome and course of a disease. A predictive test suggests likely response to the particular therapy. It is also devised to screen for cancer. It will inform you about your current status of cancer and is intended to provide clinicians information on the presence of specific biomarkers in the CTCs.

The major advantage being cancer treatments getting more personalised and micro-level, Liquid Biopsy proves very helpful and indeed a boon for us.

 

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