Chemotherapy Side Effects

by , under Conventional Treatments

I’m not sure about you, but I was astonished when I took a look at the side-effects of chemotherapy treatments.  It was a long, ugly list of horrors.  It is a decision that has to be made by each individual that faces a cancer diagnosis, but I think it should be made with full disclosure.  Well, here are some of these side-effects.  It must be understood that side effects can be acute (short-term), chronic (long-term), or permanent.

  • pain
  • vertigo
  • hemorrhage
  • memory loss
  • hair loss
  • skin discoloration
  • burns
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • nausea
  • dehydration
  • hematoma
  • weight loss/gain
  • malnutrition
  • heart damage
  • kidney damage
  • liver damage
  • ear damage
  • mouth burns
  • reproductive and sexual side-effects

Some of the most notable, notorious side-effects of chemotherapy are noted below:

  • Nausea and vomiting: Chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea are very common.  It is reported that the use of less nausea-causing  chemotherapy substances along with better antiemetics have reduced this side-effect in recent times.  Some of these chemotherapeutic substances were known to directly stimulate the vomiting centers in the brain.  I can understand how highly toxic chemicals (such as those used in chemotherapy) can cause a patient to become extremely nauseous and to vomit uncontrollably.  There have been breakthroughs in antiemetics.  It would seem to make more sense to avoid giving patients substances that would make them nauseous.  The body is designed to reject poisons and other substances that are not good for it.
  • Immune system damage: Virtually all chemotherapeutic regimens tend to cause major reductions in  the immune system function. This is usually caused by negative effects on the bone marrow which leads to a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.  Bone marrow cells can be destroyed by the administration of chemotherapeutic chemicals.  Sometimes, patients are given bone marrow transplants, which is a very painful procedure.
  • Secondary Cancers: Ironic as it seems, chemotherapy can actually cause cancer in patients.  Even with a “successful” treatment regimen, cancer can develop at a later date.  The most common secondary cancer that develops in patients is called secondary acute myeloid leukemia, which develops primarily after treatment with alkylating agents or topoisomerase inhibitors.  Chemotherapeutic agents are very powerful, toxic agents.  They are very toxic to all cells, not just to cancer cells or rapidly-dividing cells in the body.  They are supposed to be more toxic to the rapidly-dividing cancer cells.

To sum it up, there are a lot of factors to consider when evaluating a chemotherapeutic treatment method.  I’m not sure if the oncologist will tell you about all of these possible side-effects, but they are usually included with the literature that comes with the drug.  It just seems that it is advisable to know all of the possibilities of effects (negative and positive) with any treatment method.  Also, nobody suffers from every side-effect from any treatment.  It just isn’t known what side-effects (if any) will be encountered by a particular patient.

  1. Jack

    Maxium people opt for chemotherapy sessions for curing cancer. But it causes side effects like feeling nauseous, queasiness and vomiting. But because of the many medications and advaced science, this has been brought under control. If nausea and vomiting are not treated on time, then it could lead to things like exhaustion, anxiousness, dehydration and malnutrition. But controlling nausea is quite crucial.

  2. admin

    I agree that most people do opt for chemotherapy for curing cancer. The reason that it causes the side effects that you speak of is because chemotherapy chemicals are extremely toxic! This is the fact of the matter. It is widely known that chemotherapeutic drugs are extremely poisonous and dangerous. In fact, for some of the standard operating procedures for some of the chemotherapy drugs in case of a spill, the medical personnel are directed to wear HAZMAT-type suits, and to actually avoid any contact with these substances.

    I’m not sure that I totally agree with your contention about these treatments being ‘advanced science’. In my humble opinion, the technology and ‘high falutin’ names for all these newfangled fancy procedures (i.e., the Cyberknife, and others) appear to be sensationalized. True advancement and modern treatment methods would be more in the direction of prevention than on dealing with a problem once it manifests. In the same manner that “the cheapest and most painless divorce is not to marry the wrong person” is apt, it is also much easier to not have to treat the cancer that doesn’t develop than it is to deal with a malignant tumor or other life-threatening situation. But prevention is not a high priority of the medical establishment.

    Controlling nausea and similar symptoms may be a good idea, but in my opinion, it seems to be winning the battle, but losing the war. I hear that there are some successes with chemotherapy and other conventional treatments, but I can attest to the fact that many of my family members that I have lost to cancer have died horrible, painful deaths. I also have some doubts about the way that survival statistics are compiled, but will not give my well-studied opinion on that until I can do some more rigorous research on the matter. It just doesn’t make good sense to me to give sick patients poisonous treatments that would make a healthy person deathly sick. It just sounds like something out of a movie about the Inquisition.

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