Precision Oncology

How Personalized Cancer Medicine Works

Is Chemotherapy Effective?


For many years chemotherapy and radiation were the best that medical science had to offer for cancer treatment. And these options have saved, or at least prolonged, many lives in the past – and for that we are grateful. However, the medical community now knows the full extent to which chemotherapy and radiation destroy the body: these treatments cause severe damage, both at the time of treatment and leading to health consequences in the future.

Problems with Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy works by attacking all rapidly reproducing stem cells in the body:

  • Standard chemo does not differentiate between healthy cells and cancerous ones.
    • Therefore, standard chemo causes significant side effects that are often worse than the cancer itself.
    • Standard chemotherapy can actually cause recurrence of the cancer because it destroys the body so much.
    • Chemo can cause harmful side effects such as hair loss, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Standard chemo causes extreme damage to your healthy cells.
    • If the treatment doesn’t manage to kill enough of the cancerous cells in time, it can cause so much damage to your healthy cells that the treatment itself will prevent you from recovering.
    • The amount of damage caused by chemo can lead to recurrence of the cancer later on in life.

Chemotherapy Side Effects – Short-term

Chemotherapy has a bad reputation for terrible side effects, for a good reason. For many people, the experience of undergoing chemo is worse than the cancer itself. The American Cancer Society lists the potential side effects from chemo:

hand with white pills in it
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Easy bruising and bleeding
  • Infection
  • Anemia (low red blood cell counts)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Appetite changes
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Mouth, tongue, and throat problems such as sores and pain with swallowing
  • Nerve and muscle problems such as numbness, tingling, and pain
  • Skin and nail changes such as dry skin and color change
  • Urine and bladder changes and kidney problems
  • Weight changes
  • Chemo brain, which can affect concentration and focus
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in libido and sexual function
  • Fertility problems

Chemotherapy Side Effects – Long-term

In addition to needing to endure the short-term side effects of chemotherapy – which can last upwards of years – cancer patients who undergo chemo must also deal with long-term ramifications. Moreover, "sometimes the side effects can last a lifetime, such as when chemo causes long-term damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys, or reproductive organs."

  • Fatigue
  • Problems with mental focusing
  • Heart problems
  • Kidney and urinary problems
  • Early menopause
  • Nerve problems
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Second cancer

Delayed side effects, like a recurrence of cancer, can also show up years later. Needless to say, many cancer patients want to do anything they can to avoid undergoing chemotherapy – even if it means a difference of life and death.

Best Cancer Treatment

Hourglass

Fortunately, in today’s day and age you don’t need to choose chemotherapy to beat cancer: the days of one-size-fits-all cancer treatment are over – at least as far as science and technology are concerned. As Dr. Robert Stein, a consultant at UCL (University College London, UK) and proponent of precision oncology, says, "In every area of cancer treatment we have largely functioned on a one-size-fits-all basis because we didn’t have tools to do any better."

And now we do have the tools. Science has developed targeted chemotherapy and targeted radiation, which are much more effective than standard forms of chemotherapy and radiation. These targeted cancer therapies attack only the cancerous cells in your body, leaving your healthy cells to flourish. Therefore, they offer a more localized treatment and more successful treatment outcomes with fewer and less severe side effects.

While these innovative targeted therapies have yet to be fully integrated into current standard cancer treatment, they do exist, and many cancer patients around the world are benefitting from them. And you could be, too.

You can access these targeted therapies, along with the most advanced diagnostic imaging tools and genetic testing, through precision oncology services like CTOAM. If you or a loved one has received a cancer diagnosis and want to ensure that you are getting the best possible cancer care, please reach out to speak with our cancer care specialists anytime.

To speak directly with CTOAM’s Director of Scientific Research, Alex Rolland, book your 20 minute free consultation today.

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