Breast Cancer Doctors in Scottsdale Provide Chemotherapy and New Treatment Options
Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses specific medications to target and eliminate cancer cells throughout the body. These medications may be administered alone, or in conjunction with radiation treatments or surgery. How often a patient receives chemotherapy depends on the type and stage of the cancer. Other factors that play into the selection of chemotherapy drugs are the patient’s age and tolerance to side effects.
WHAT IS A MEDICAL ONCOLOGIST?
Medical oncologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer using chemotherapy. They typically act as the main health care provider of a cancer patient, and often coordinate treatment plans with other specialists.
HOW CHEMOTHERAPY WORKS:
Healthy cells in the body grow, live and die normally, in order to replace old or damaged cells. Cancer cells do not work this way, and end up dividing, and forming more cells at an unhealthy rate. Chemotherapy works by interfering with a cancer cell’s ability to multiply, either during a specific phase of cell division, or by destroying these cells in all phases of their life cycle. During this treatment, healthy cells are also affected, which can cause side effects. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, loss of hair, easy bruising, and a higher risk of infection.
WHAT TYPES OF CHEMOTHERAPY ARE AVAILABLE?
Every type and stage of cancer requires a different combination of drugs. Over 100 chemotherapy drugs can be used in various combinations. During chemotherapy, these drugs are either taken orally or injected directly into the patient. Experimental chemotherapy drugs are constantly being developed and tested. The following are some of the groups of medications that are commonly used in chemotherapy today:
• Antibiotics are made from natural substances, and interfere with DNA synthesis during specific phases of cell division.
• Alkylating agents directly damage the DNA in cancer cells throughout all stages of the disease, and prevent them from reproducing.
• Plant Alkaloids are made up of various plants found in nature, and stop cancer cell division during specific stages of the disease.
• Antimetabolites interfere with the growth of DNA and RNA during specific phases of cell division.