Find out more about cancer treatments

Treatments for cancer

About the treatments

In general, every dose of chemotherapy kills 50 per cent of cancer cells circulating in the blood and lymphatic system at the time; it may therefore take years of chemotherapy treatment to kill the last surviving cancer cell.

Chemotherapy, by definition, kills fast growing cells in the body such as cancer cells. This is the reason why hair falls out following chemotherapy because the hair-root cells are among the fastest-growing cells in the body. Yet hair grows back. It is therefore plausible that some cancer cells may escape death and start multiplying again. Other fast-growing cells in the body are those lining the gut and the chemotherapy agents kill most of these as well. This is the reason for vomiting during chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy Cancer Infusion
Woman Receiving Radiation Therapy Treatments For Breast Cancer

Another group of fast-growing cells destroyed by chemotherapy are blood cells, especially those that are in the process of formation in the bone marrow. This results in immune system deficiencies and resultant infections which are difficult to treat. Furthermore many of these chemotherapy agents are themselves carcinogenic and this is the reason there are many reports in the scientific literature of different types of returning cancers after five or ten years following chemotherapy.

Radiation acts in a similar way to chemotherapy, killing some cancer cells, but not all of them.

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Cancer Mum Celebrating Birthday With Daughter

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