At Jordan Valley Cancer Center, we believe patients who have a basic understanding of chemotherapy and the strategy behind their treatment plan can have a better treatment experience. By partnering with Utah Cancer Specialists, Utah’s largest community-based oncology practice, we hope to provide patients and families not only with excellent care but the time, attention and resources that can help you fully understand your diagnosis and chemotherapy treatment.
What Is Chemotherapy?
“Chemotherapy” refers to the use of certain drugs to attack cancerous cells. Cancer cells may divide and grow too rapidly or they may not die off like a normal cell should. Either type of behavior may result in the formation of a tumor. If the tumor is not controlled, those cells could metastasize (spread) to other areas of the body. Chemotherapy aims to prevent spreading and kill the cancer cells.
Because no two patients and no two cancers are exactly alike, your chemotherapy drugs will be customized for you, using proven data about what has worked in similar past scenarios, as well as taking into account the specifics of your cancer diagnosis.
There are currently over 100 different chemotherapy drugs in use. Different drugs target cells at different phases of the cell cycle. Because of this, your medical oncologist may prescribe a variety of types of chemotherapy in your treatment plan.
Reasons to Have Chemotherapy
Your physician will discuss the goals of your chemotherapy with you. Reasons to have chemotherapy may include:
- Prevent spread of cancer
- Slow cancer growth
- Kill metastasized cancer cells
- Reduce side effects, such as pain or blockages
- Cure cancer
How Is Chemotherapy Administered?
There are several ways to give a patient chemotherapy:
- Intravenous Chemotherapy: Drugs are administered through an IV. This is the most common form of chemo.
- Oral Chemotherapy: drugs are swallowed in pill or liquid form. Sometimes these drugs can be taken at home.
- Injection: Chemo is administered as a shot.
- Other: In some cases, chemotherapy can be rubbed on the skin or administered directly to certain areas like the spine, chest or abdomen.
Chemotherapy schedules can vary widely. You may receive your treatment in a single session or for several days in a row; you may get treatment once a week or once a month, depending on the cancer and your body’s response. It’s common for patients to take breaks between treatment cycles. This allows the body time to regenerate healthy cells and prepare for the next round.
Chemotherapy Side Effects
Because chemo drugs are very powerful (they kill all fast-growing cells, which may include hair and blood cells), side effects are a potential risk. If side effects are severe, your medical oncologist may lower your dosage or have some techniques for managing the side effects. Common side effects may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hair loss
- Changes in bone marrow
- Mouth and throat sores
- Skin problems
- Changes in libido
- Fertility problems
- Changes in memory
- Changes in emotional state
Please keep in mind that this list is not representative of all chemotherapy drugs, but general in nature. The specific side effects vary from drug to drug and patient to patient.
Chemotherapy for Cancer In West Jordan, UT
Our West Jordan cancer care team believes in an integrative, collaborative approach to cancer care. It is not uncommon for patients at Jordan Valley Cancer Center to receive chemotherapy along with some other treatment modality from a medical, surgical or radiation oncologist. Additionally, as a patient of Jordan Valley Cancer Center, you will be paired with a Nurse Navigator who can help you understand your options and make informed, educated decisions about pursuing cancer treatment. Your Nurse Navigator serves as your advocate. For more information about chemotherapy, please contact us by calling 801-601-2260.