Chemotherapy is one of the most widely used therapeutic modalities in the treatment of cancer, which is done by using a wide variety of drugs.
The main objective of the Chemotherapy is to destroy the cells that make up the tumor in order to achieve the reduction of the disease. The drugs used in this type of treatment are called antineoplastic or chemotherapeutic drugs.
Normally, the process of dividing healthy cells is strictly regulated by many control mechanisms, which tell the cell when to divide or when to remain stable.
In general, chemotherapy acts in the phase of the division of the tumor cell preventing its multiplication, and destroying them. Over time, this results in a decrease or disappearance of the malignant tumor.
Purpose of the Chemotherapy
The purpose of chemotherapy may vary depending on the type of tumor, the stage in which the tumor is found, and the general condition of the patient:
In this case, the intention of chemotherapy is to cure the disease and can be used as a single treatment or it can be combined with others. A patient is considered cured when there is no evidence of tumor cells for a long time.
Chemotherapy is intended to control the symptoms produced by the tumor. Its primary objective is to improve the quality of life of the patient and, if possible, also increase their survival.
Each type of malignant tumor has a certain sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs and a certain resistance to others. However, it is frequent that the same drug can be used in the treatment of different tumors, varying the doses or associating it with other different drugs.
For each type of neoplasm, and depending on the stage of the disease, specific treatment schemes are used, usually combinations of cytotoxic drugs, which are usually identified by acronyms. Your oncologist will be the one who decides what type of drugs and what dose is necessary to administer depending on a series of factors such as:
- Your general condition
- Previous diseases (heart disease, vascular diseases, etc…)
- Type of tumor
- The phase of the disease.
- Location of the tumor.
Does Chemotherapy Work?
Generally, during the treatment and/or after the end of it, your oncologist will ask you to do a series of tests that will allow you to know how the tumor has responded to chemotherapy.
Only through them, it is possible to know if the tumor has diminished, disappeared or if on the contrary it is in a stable situation or has progressed.
The response of a tumor to a treatment is totally independent of the number and intensity of the side effects caused by it. The fact of not developing symptoms during chemotherapy does not mean that it is not acting on the tumor and vice versa.
Generally, the possibility of continuing with your daily activities is determined by the side effects that chemotherapy can cause (fatigue, discomfort, etc).
The side effects caused by chemotherapy depend on a number of factors such as:
- Type of chemotherapy and dose: each drug can cause side effects totally different from those caused by other medications. In addition, these effects are more or less intense, depending on the dose administered, the interval between cycles, etc.
- Previous illnesses: some chronic diseases can aggravate symptoms and side effects. Thus, for example, diabetes can increase neurological toxicity.
- Individual susceptibility: although certain side effects always appear when a specific drug is used, other effects or the intensity of the same varies from one person to another.
Although most patients can continue to perform their daily activities during treatment, it is difficult to know a priori what will happen in your case. It is convenient that you consider the possibility of decreasing the pace of work and rest during the days after the administration of the treatment.
Your doctor can inform you about the side effects of the treatment and advise on the recommendations to follow.
What is Leukemia?
Leukemia is nothing but another name for the Blood Cancer.
Leukemia or blood cancer, more usual in the stage of childhood (about 25% of childhood cancers are leukemias), is a disease of the hematopoietic system or the blood-producing cells in which the leukocytes also known as white blood cells. Totally or partially, the premature white blood cells of the bone marrow get mixed into the bloodstream and this is established in the different organs of the lymphatic system.
The blood cancer (leukemia), according to its evolution, is divided into acute and chronic leukemias: acute leukemia is characterized by the rapid development of the disease, while chronic leukemia has a deceptive course. The patient may take months or even years to develop severe symptoms.
Another classification focuses on the degree of maturity and the offspring of leukocytes multiplied exaggeratedly: Myeloid and lymphocytic leukemia, the first when degraded leukocytes come from the bone marrow tissue, from which various blood cells develop, including the so-called granulocytes, the second when the leukemia cells appear due to the malignant degradation of another family of cells, the so-called lymphocytes.
How is Leukemia caused?
Leukemia is caused when some cells become cancerous and spread to the bloodstream and lymph nodes. They can also travel to the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) and other parts of the body.
The body can regulate the development of cells sending signals that indicate when it should stop. But with respect to this disease, these cells do not respond to these signals and reproduce, regardless of the available space. These abnormal cells get to reproduce quickly and do not work as healthy white blood cells, whose mission is to fight infections.
When the immature white blood cells begin to displace the healthy cells of the bone marrow, the person gets to experience the symptoms of leukemia (infections, anemia, bleeding).
What are the Symptoms of Leukemia?
In leukemia (blood cancer), each case is unique and particular, but leukemia usually has the following symptoms:
Usually, people do not usually visit the doctor because of fatigue, and when they dare to do so, it is because fatigue seemingly without cause affects their daily lives.
Fatigue or exhaustion is usually temporary and can be attributed to specific and diverse causes such as a day of intense work, lack of sleep, a tiring trip, a crippling situation or excessive exercise.
Fever is defined as the body temperature above 38 ° C. In many cases. The temperature can be measured by a suitable thermometer, in the ear, under the armpit (axillary), under the tongue in the mouth (buccal) or in the anus (rectal).
Sweating too much at night is a general symptom that can manifest itself in many different diseases. Especially in the case of infections and tumors. The sweats can also appear without an apparent reason and without being related to a pathology.
Losing weight is possible if you take care of your diet and if you exercise regularly and appropriately. In case these measures are not enough, there are healthy diets that favor the task. However, weight loss can also be related to some pathology.
Loss of appetite:
Having a good appetite has always been considered a sign of good health. The lack of appetite for a short time is normal, however, if you suffer for a long time or even constant, it may be an indication of a disease, so it is very important to see a doctor.
How can Leukemia (Blood Cancer) be prevented?
Unfortunately, until now, there is no known measure that can prevent leukemia. In addition, the drawback is that there is no possibility of detecting it early. However, in order to reduce the risk of cancer, special care must be taken with chemical contaminants, in particular, benzene and the substances that contain it.
It is recommended to avoid tobacco, alcohol and exercise, take care of food and thus lead a good quality of life.
If you have prolonged symptoms such as malaise, weakness, fatigue, and fever, you should see a doctor to explain the possible causes. Even if the odds of a leukemia are low compared to other diseases, it must be clearly understood that the earlier a disease is detected, the greater the chance of cure.
There are very few known causes of childhood leukemia related to lifestyle or the environment. Therefore, it is important to know that in most cases there is nothing these children or their parents could have done to prevent these cancers.
One in three men and one in four women develop cancer throughout their lives. There are more than 200 different types of tumors, with particular causes and characteristics.
There are two ways to address cancer prevention, on the one hand, by adopting a series of healthy habits that we should all follow, on the other, giving the importance it deserves to certain activities of early diagnosis and health education:
Primary Prevention of Cancer
This is the set of actions that lead to the reduction of the incidence of cancer cases by eliminating the possible causal factors. The European Code Against Cancer summarizes the most important measures of primary prevention:
1. Do not smoke or quit as soon as possible. That includes all types of tobacco. It is the main preventable cause of cancer. In addition to your lungs, larynx, esophagus, oral cavity or stomach, among many other organs, they will thank you.
2. Avoid obesity (BMI over 30) and maintain a balanced and healthy normal weight (BMI between 18.5 and 24.9). An excess of body fat is related to more likely to suffer cancer of the kidney, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, breast, ovaries, and endometrium.
3. Do some physical activity of moderate intensity every day, at least for 30 minutes. Turn your back on a sedentary lifestyle and reduce the likelihood of having breast or endometrial tumors or colorectal cancer.
4. Increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables (four or five servings per day), take two or three servings a day of protein, and ingest 30 gr. of fiber.
5. Limit the consumption of foods that contain saturated fats of animal origin or butter, red meat, products with excess salt, too caloric foods or drinks with excess sugar.
6. It is advisable to take crude olive oil, include in your diet bluefish, legumes, whole grains and, in a moderate way, nuts. Some products, such as hawthorn, evening primrose or crustaceans such as Krill contain W3 fatty acids ( cellular antioxidants ) that can help reduce the chances of suffering from certain tumors.
7. Drink eight glasses of water daily.
8. Control alcohol consumption, or much better, avoid it altogether. Decreasing the intake of alcoholic drinks from ‘four or more’ daily to ‘one or none’ can reduce the risk of liver cancer by 21%; the colon by 31%, and the breast by 30%.
9. Avoid excessive exposure to the sun. This recommendation is especially important in the smallest. To prevent the appearance of skin cancers use sunscreen, avoid hours of maximum exposure to the sun and do away with the use of UVA cabins.
10. Apply legislation to the workplace to prevent any exposure to substances that may cause cancer. Apply the rules of radiological protection.
11. Reduce the natural levels of radon – a type of natural radioactive gas – present in your home in case of being exposed to this type of radiation, since it increases the risk of lung cancer. There are plastic detectors to measure the radon concentration in your home.
12. Remember that breastfeeding protects against breast cancer, being able to reduce its risk of occurrence up to 4%.
13. Limit the treatments based on hormone replacement therapy, since they can increase the risk of suffering from some types of cancer.
Secondary Prevention of Cancer
The primary prevention measures must be completed with activities of early diagnosis and health education of the population in what is called, in general, secondary prevention.
Early diagnosis is the set of activities that aim to detect the disease before it manifests clinically, and thus begin treatment early. The effectiveness of early diagnosis of cancer has been clearly demonstrated in three cancers: breast, cervical and colorectal cancer.
The health education means to publicize the early signs of cancer for which an individual should consult your doctor. There are public health programs that can prevent cancer or increase the chance of curing cancer that has already appeared:
- Women age 25 and older should be screened for cervical cancer early.
- Women over 50 should have a mammogram for the early detection of breast cancer.
- Men and women over 50 should undergo screening for early colon cancer.
- Vaccination programs against the hepatitis B virus, such as prevention of liver cancer, and vaccination against human papillomavirus as prevention of cervical cancer.
After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. Breast cancer can occur in both men and women, but it is much more frequent in women.
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that gets formed in the cells of the breast.
Significant support for raising awareness and providing funds for research helped to generate advances in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
Survival rates of breast cancer have been increased as compared to the previous years, and the number of deaths related to this disease is steadily decreasing, largely due to factors such as earlier detection, a new approach to personalized treatment and a better understanding of the disease.
Followings are the Signs and Symptoms of the Breast Cancer:
- A breast thickening that feels slightly different from the surrounding tissues
- Change in size, shape or appearance of a breast
- Changes in the skin of the breast, such as dimples
- The recent inversion of the nipple
- Excoriation, peeling, scab formation or detachment of pigmented skin area surrounding the nipple or skin of the breast
- Redness or depressions in the skin of the breast
Causes of the Breast Cancer:
Doctors know that breast cancer occurs with the abnormal growth of some breast cells. These cells divide more rapidly than healthy cells and continue to accumulate, and thus form a lump or mass. The cells can spread throughout the breast to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Breast cancer most often begins in milk duct cells (invasive duct carcinoma). Breast cancer can also start in glandular tissue called “lobules” (invasive lobular carcinoma), or in other cells or tissues within the breast.
Researchers have identified hormonal, lifestyle and environmental factors that can increase the risk of breast cancer. However, it is not clear why some people who do not have risk factors get cancer, while others with risk factors never have it. It is likely that breast cancer is caused by a complex interaction of genetic makeup and environment.
A risk factor for breast cancer is anything that makes you more likely to have breast cancer. But having one or even several risk factors for breast cancer does not necessarily mean that you will get breast cancer. Many women who get breast cancer do not have other risk factors than the simple fact of being a woman.
The Main Factors that are Associated with the Breast Cancer:
- Being a woman: Women are much more likely than men to get breast cancer.
- Older age: The risk of getting breast cancer increases as you get older.
- Personal history of breast disorders: If you have had a breast biopsy in which a lobular carcinoma was detected in situ or atypical breast hyperplasia, you have a high risk of breast cancer.
- Personal history of breast cancer: If you had cancer in one breast, your risk of getting cancer in the other breast is higher.
- Hereditary genes that increase the risk of getting cancer: Certain genetic mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer can be transmitted from parents to children. The best-known genetic mutations are known as “BRCA1” and “BRCA2”. These genes can greatly increase your risk of breast cancer and other cancers, but they do not make cancer inevitable.
- Exposure to radiation: If you received radiation treatments in the chest in childhood or in the early stages of adulthood, your chances of getting breast cancer are higher.
- Obesity: Being obese increases the risk of getting breast cancer.
- Have your first menstruation at a young age: Having your first period before the age of 12 increases the risk of getting breast cancer.
- Begin menopause at a later age: If in your case menopause began at a later age, you are more likely to get breast cancer.
- Have your first child at a later age: Women who have their first child after age 30 may be at a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- You have never been pregnant: Women who were never pregnant have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than women who had one or more pregnancies.
- Postmenopausal hormone therapy: Women who take hormone therapy medications that combine estrogen and progesterone to treat the signs and symptoms of menopause are at increased risk of breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer decreases when women stop taking these medications.
- Drinking alcohol: The consumption of alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer.
Prevention of the Breast Cancer
Making changes in your daily life can help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Try the followings:
- Consult your doctor about breast cancer screening: Talk to your doctor about when to start breast cancer screenings and tests, such as breast exams and mammograms.
Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of screening tests. Together you can decide which breast cancer screening strategies are best for you.
- Familiarize yourself with your breasts through self-examination to become aware of breast cancer: If you notice any changes, lumps or other unusual signs in your breasts, speak immediately with your doctor.
Being aware of breast cancer cannot prevent this disease, but it can help you to better understand the normal changes that your breast goes through, as well as to identify unusual signs and symptoms.
- If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation: Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than one drink a day if you choose to drink.
- Exercise most days of the week: Try to do at least 30 minutes of exercises most days of the week. If you have not done much physical activity lately, ask your doctor if you can exercise and start slowly.
- Limit postmenopausal hormone therapy: Combined hormone therapy can increase the risk of breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of hormone therapy.
Some women, who have breast cancer, experience some signs and symptoms during menopause and, for these women, it may be acceptable to assume the highest risk of breast cancer in order to alleviate the signs and symptoms of menopause.
To reduce the risk of breast cancer, use the lowest possible dose of hormone therapy for the shortest possible period.
- Maintain a healthy weight If you have a healthy weight, work to maintain it: If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor about healthy strategies to achieve it. Reduce the number of calories you consume daily and slowly increase the amount of physical activity.
- Choose a healthy diet: Women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil and a mix of nuts may have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses mainly on foods of vegetable origin, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats, such as olive oil, instead of butter, and fish instead of red meat.
- Preventive drugs (chemoprophylaxis): Estrogen-inhibiting medications, such as selective modulators of estrogen receptors and aromatase inhibitors, reduce the risk of breast cancer in women who are at high risk of contracting the disease.These medications carry a risk of causing side effects, so doctors reserve them for women with a very high risk of breast cancer. You must talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of the medications.
- Preventive surgery: Women with a very high risk of having breast cancer may opt for the surgical removal of their healthy breasts (prophylactic mastectomy). Also, removing your healthy ovaries (prophylactic oophorectomy) to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.