In chemotherapy, or as it is more correct to say: medical oncology drugs of all pharmacological classes are used, to gain control of cancer. It either destroys tumor cells, or slows / stops their division in the primary tumor and / or its scattering (metastases). In general, it is divided into three main types:
- Neoadjuvant chemotherapy – drug treatment, previous surgery or radiotherapy. Most often the goal is to achieve a reduction in tumor volume and thus the subsequent surgical or radiation treatment to be technically feasible and, of course, successfully.
- Adjuvant chemotherapy (prophylactic) - treatment, which occurs at certain stages in some types of tumors, to destroy the remaining single cells in the body after surgery, which can settle somewhere and after a while begin to actively divide and get the so-called metastases or re-development of the tumor at the site of its primary development. It is most commonly used in breast cancer, colon and rectal cancer, ovarian cancer and sometimes stomach cancer, lung, bladder and some others. Often in adjuvant treatment to the classical chemotherapy modern is also added target (aimed) therapy. Adjuvant may also be used hormonal (endocrine) therapy.
- Medical chemotherapy – aims to slow and / or stop tumor growth for a different period of time and is aimed at such patients, whose disease is no longer curable, but can be controlled for a long time - sometimes for many years.
Modern drug treatment of malignant tumors includes, both classical cytotoxic and cytostatic drugs (chemotherapy), and drugs from the so-called target (aimed) therapy, which selectively target certain "targets" in tumor cells, representing genetic mutations, which are established by genetic research. Sometimes targeted therapy is administered alone, and in other cases together with classical chemotherapy.
An integral part of drug treatment is modern hormonal (endocrine) therapy, which is extremely important in breast cancer and prostate cancer. In some cases, endocrine therapy may be preceded by classical chemotherapy. Medications are also used for some cancers, which have immunological action(vaccines, etc.).
The most common side effects with chemotherapy are nausea, vomiting, reducing the number of white and red blood cells, etc., and with some medications, hair loss occurs temporarily and completely reversibly. After completion of treatment, she recovers in 100%. They are used in treatment the most modern drugs, preventing or greatly reducing these side effects.
Most anticancer drugs are administered intravenously through a vein in the arm or through the so-called port-a-cat systems, which are small devices placed under the skin, allowing infusion of drugs without continuously injuring the veins. Other anticancer drugs are taken orally or given as subcutaneous injections. There are some, in the form of stickers with a special structure, of which the drug passes through the skin into the bloodstream.