Treating Lung Cancer With Chemotherapy
There are two main types of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which is the most commonly diagnosed in patients, and the faster growing more aggressive small cell lung cancer (SCLC), which makes-up for between 10 – 15% of all lung cancer situations diagnosed.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer – consists of three types: squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma, where various treatment options are obtainable depending on its staging: biologic therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy (high-energy rays of light used to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA and hindering their ability to both grow and divide), and surgery.
Small Cell Lung Cancer – consists of two types, small cell carcinoma (oat cell cancer), and combined cell carcinoma, where treatment options usually be make up of consistently: chemotherapy, laser therapy (a small beam of light used to burn and kill cancer cells), photodynamic therapy (a light used to activate drugs that kill cancer cells), radiation therapy, and surgery.
However, chemotherapy which has been around for some 70 years, is nevertheless the most widely used treatment for lung cancer. Dating back to the Second World War, chemotherapy was once used as a chemical warfare weapon; however, today chemotherapy has evolved from a one chemical killer, to a 100 plus drug Saviour.
Chemotherapy works by destroying cancer cells and stopping their spread with the use of a combination of drugs, and is something that has shown an permissible amount of success throughout the years. However, chemotherapy tends to cause unwanted side-effects too, as not only are the bad cells destroyed, but also a important amount of damage is caused to the healthy ones.
Damage to the healthy cells in bone marrow (that make blood), the stomach, the alimentary canal between the stomach and the anus, the mouth and the hair, are all shared side-effects suffered by patients. Although many of these side-effects are usually permanent, they can be quite horrific, which can also contribute to a negative effect on the patient.
Damage to the healthy cells around the hair follicles, usually results in alopecia (hair-loss), which for many can seriously damage their self-confidence, and is probably one of the most associated side-effects of chemotherapy. Also chemotherapy treatment can send signals to the brain telling the body to vomit, together with irritations in the stomach that cause the sensation of nausea.
The continued sensation of nausea, anemia ([low red blood cell count] causes the patient to feel ineffective and tired), neutropenia ([low white blood cell count] can leave the patient open to infection), and trombocytopenia ([low pateletes] cell break up found in the blood that cause bleeding and bruising), are all things that can affect the patient.
Although chemotherapy treatment can cause unhealthy side-effects to many patients, they are usually a lot less harsh than those caused by the lung cancer if left untreated. However, constant research and development is helping chemotherapy to enhance with the use of new drugs, and its combination with other treatments, to make it an already more powerful weapon.