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Cancer Chemotherapy

Cancer Chemotherapy – Types of Chemotherapy and Treatment Abroad


Normal cells grow splitting into two new cells, but cancer cells divide more often and refuse to commit cell suicide when they are not needed any more. The increasing rate is always double, and when a mass of cancer cells becomes a lump, medical terminology defines it as a tumor. The main types of chemotherapy detect that process of division and it is when they take action, killing the cell’s control centre that enables cell division or interrupts the chemical process involved.


What is Cancer Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy means the use of drugs for cancer treatment. Among other types of cancer treatment, radiation and surgery which are considered local treatments, are the most efficient for certain specific forms of cancer, breast, prostate or lung for instance, because they target the disease directly on cell level. 

On the other hand, chemotherapy differs from radiation or surgery in that it is a systemic treatment, meaning that the drugs have to travel until they reach the cancer cells. This procedure allows chemotherapy to treat a great deal of cancer types and their side effects.

Types of Chemotherapy

The division of cancer chemotherapy drugs is based on three factors:

  • How they work – it helps oncologists predict side effects.
  • Their chemical structure – helps oncologists plan when it should be given.
  • Their relationship to other drugs – helps to decide which drugs could give better results working together.

These three aspects are important to keep in mind when choosing the best treatment from among the types of chemotherapy available.

The following are the different types of chemotherapy:

  • Alkylating Agents – these drugs damage DNA directly in order to prevent cancer cell reproducing. They can cause long-term damage, when treating leukemia, multiple myeloma among other located tumors to the bone marrow. 
  • Antimetabolites – they interfere with DNA and RNA growth: they substitute their normal building blocks and damage cancer cells.
  • Anti-tumour antibiotics – including anthracyclines, which interfere with enzymes responsible for DNA replication and are used for a wide variety of cancers. They may damage the heart.
  • Topoisomerase inhibitors – interfere in the process of DNA strand separation.
  • Miotic inhibitors – These drugs are derived from natural products and implant alkaloids to stop mitosis. They are used with different types of chemotherapy drugs and have a potential to cause nerve damage.
  • Corticosteroids – are natural hormones useful in treating lymphoma and leukemias, while killing cancer cells or slowing their growth. They are sometimes used before chemotherapy to prevent nausea and severe allergic reactions.

Other types of cancer chemotherapy act in different ways, for example targeting healthy cells. Among them are:

  • Targeted therapies – which attack mutant versions of specific genes, as part of the main treatment to maintain remission and decrease the chance of recurrence.
  • Differentiating agents – which transform cancer cells into normal ones.
  • Hormone therapy – These sex hormones change the action or production of male and female hormones, and are used to slow the growth of prostate, breast and uterine cancers.
  • Immunotherapy – They stimulate the immune system in order to recognize and attack cancer cells.


Chemotherapy Treatment Abroad

Plan your trip! Your cancer treatment may be affected by where and how you travel. Consider risks of infections, not to fly too soon after chemotherapy and many other practical factors that can affect your condition. Plan along with your doctor and ask about:

  • Travel insurance – now that some insurance companies cover treatments outside Europe and the U.S. and some others do not.
  • The journey – Some cancers can increase the risk of getting blood clot. Plan your trip wisely and take care of yourself. Get help from medical travel companies: they offer a wide variety of services for patients who have chemotherapy treatment abroad. They can arrange some needs, including
    • A suitable seat
    • Special diets
    • Transfers from an to airports
    • Wheelchair
    • Oxygen
  • Vaccinations – start preparing at least 6 weeks before you travel. Consider the following vaccines and strengthen the immune system (yellow fever, tuberculosis, rubella, mumps, German measles, shingles, among many others).

Also, be careful about taking medication during your chemotherapy treatment abroad. It is recommended to bring along prescriptions and extra supply in case of delays.