BREAST CANCER INDIA

Listen to your body. Be Aware.

UNDERSTANDING BREAST CANCER


CHEMOTHERAPY: PREREQUISITES

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What are the prerequisites before giving chemotherapy?

The drugs used for chemotherapy are a toxic lot, and all of them have some side effect or the other. Some of them can act on the heart muscle and cause a permanent damage, while others may cause disturbances of the peripheral nerves resulting in disturbances in sensation etc. Hence, before a chemotherapy is started, it is essential to ensure the optimal functioning of various organ systems, especially, the heart, the kidney and the liver. The general condition of the patient should be good, else the tolerance of CT will go down and there may be more harms than benefit. Basically, the risk benefit ratio is assessed.


Which tests need to be done before chemotherapy and why?

As mentioned above, a number of tests need to be done to ensure a safe chemotherapy experience. They are as follows:

How often is chemotherapy given

Most chemotherapy regimens are given for 6 cycles, with a gap of 21 days between each cycle. For example, combination of Cyclophosphamide, Epirubicin and 5 Fluorouracil or the FEC regimen, as it is called, is given for 6 cycles with gaps of 21 days between each cycle. Some agents like Taxanes are given in both three weekly forms, as well as weekly cycles. So the number of cycles will depend on the combination of drugs used.
Also important to mention here is that, before every cycle, a complete blood count is a must. And if the counts are not above the minimum permissible, then we may have to wait for a few more days or even a week for the counts to be normal, before giving the next cycle of chemotherapy.

What are the routes to administer chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is to be delivered into the veins. This can be achieved by the following ways: