Nowadays, breast cancer became one of the most popular keywords for browsers. Thus, it is important to know how breast cancer forms and what kinds of standard treatments for this condition. One of the most popular types of treatment is Chemotherapy.
What is Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy (also known as Chemo) is one of the standard treatments available for cancer patients. It is the process that involves intense medicines use to inhibit the quick growth and division of cancer cells by preventing them from multiplying during cell division (called “Mitosis”) or by destroying the cells. Chemotherapy may be given as pills or by infusion, injection or directly on the skin. The treatment depends on the type and the stage of the cancer being treated. Chemotherapy may be considered as a distinct cancer treatment or in combination with other treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy and targeted treatment.
Mechanism of Chemotherapy for breast cancer
In breast cancer, cells are growing uncontrollably because of mutations. In the broad sense, chemotherapy medicines work by disrupting Mitosis. Some chemo drugs can act on resting cells, as well as actively dividing cells. Others can act on cells only during specific stages of the cell cycle. For example, Cyclophosphamide (Alkylatin) bind to DNA exactly when the cell is replicating its DNA. By preventing the Synthesize phase, the drugs halt the Mitosis. Taxanes (Taxol, Taxotere) thwart cells from splitting into two daughter cells. They hinder the equal division of DNA between the two cells, thus preventing cell division. Another theory indicates that chemotherapeutic drugs actuate “Apoptosis”, which is known as the programmed cell death.
Resistance of cancer cells
Resistance is a major cause of Chemotherapy failure. One of many reasons is the excess of pumps on the surface of cancer cells which actively pump Chemotherapeutic drugs outside the cells. They are called p-glycoprotein and are produced to protect cancer cells from being destroyed. Research on P-glycoprotein is currently being conducted in order to develop medicines that inhibit the presence of the pumps. Another mechanism for cancer cells to be resisted is gene amplification. This means cancer cells are in a process that multiplies copies of gene. When there’re too many genes produced, drugs cannot completely prevent all the gene expression. Therefore, the cell can restore its ability to proliferate.
Side effects and causality
Side effects are the problems that occur when the process of cancer causes damages to another healthy cells, tissues or organs. Some recognizable side effects of Chemotherapy are nausea, vomiting, decreased blood cell counts, fatigue, hair loss, pain and mouth sores. Chemotherapy medicines are designed to inhibit and destroy cells in general. They do not distinguish the malignant cells from healthy ones. Thus, it is inevitable that fast-dividing cells such as hair, tunica mucosa pharynges,… are also destroyed. Although the side effects illustrate good progress in the treatment, it exerts bad influence on the patient’s life and mental health. Patients may feel, at some point during Chemotherapy, anxious, depressed, frustrated, lonely, helpless and hopeless.
After all, it is stressful to deal with living with breast cancer. It may cause fatigue, which can make it harder to cope with the patient’s feelings. Of course, prevention is the best medicine, and one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from breast cancer is Chemotherapy.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 18, 2017 | Last Modified: May 23, 2017
Breast Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0032825/. Accessed October 12, 2016.
National Cancer Institute, Chemotherapy and You, p.1-p.3. Accessed May, 2007