Cancer Active
Navigation
 
Cancer Prevention Cancer Treatment Support Us Online Shop
Chris Woolmams
20 things you need to know about chemotherapy

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of chemicals to kill rogue cells.

Historically these cancer drugs worked almost indiscriminately on rapidly dividing cells, usually poisoning them through free-radical toxic action.

The chemotherapy drugs used are decided according to the type of tumour and its state of advancement.

Some chemicals work directly on the rogue cell´s DNA; others on the receptors at the cell surface, trying to stop the rogue secondary messages getting through.

The risks are largely in the side effects. Pills taken orally, or drugs administered into veins, poison the whole body. Indeed, some drugs are themselves carcinogens. The liver and immune system do their best to remove the poisons, but both are weakened in the process.

Other rapidly dividing cells, such as those in the nails, blood, stomach lining and hair, also suffer. Nausea can also be a real problem, as it debilitates the patient. Also the blood count declines during treatment - less red cells mean less oxygen is carried round the body; less white cells mean the immune system (your natural defence against cancer) is weakened. Often after a couple of weeks and again around week six, the patient gets depressed. One reason is that lowered blood oxygen levels and depression are directly linked. Some patients lose weight. If this is too great it is called cachexia, and can be a cause of death.

Although chemotherapy can be very effective, the success rate varies and in certain cancers can be as low as one per cent!

Open quotesA survey of 128 US cancer doctors found that if they contracted cancer, more than 80 per cent would not have chemotherapy  Close quotes

A survey of 128 US cancer doctors found that if they contracted cancer, more than 80 per cent would not have chemotherapy as the "risks and side effects far outweighed the likely benefits". You have to work out what´s best for you and your type and grade of cancer.

A new breed of drugs is being developed - biologics, including such chemicals as mono-clonal antibodies. These are supposedly much more tightly targeted to you and your type of cancer, because they attack some particular genetic feature, protein or enzyme unique to the cancer. This is not every person responds to them; for example just 20 per cent of women who are HER-2 positive can use Herceptin. Tests should exist to find your suitability for these drugs or they can be wasted, your hopes unfulfilled. These new drugs supposedly have less side-effects but an article in the Doctors´ own magazine, the Lancet, expressed concern over levels of side effects. Clinical Trials were showing more side-effects in certain cases. However, the furure is less ´chemotherapy´ and more targeted biologic drugs to manage your illness and help you survive longer.

So read on, talk to your consultant and then decide.

1: Make sure you know everything about the chemotherapy drug your doctor is recommending. You will find new drugs covered on this web site in our A to Z guide (click here). The very latest cancer treatments can be obtained on the Medcast website: http://my.webmd.com/medical_information/condition_centers/cancer/default.htm.

2: Ask your doctor why he/she is recommending chemotherapy. If they had cancer, would they treat themselves with this drug? How long have they been prescribing this treatment and to how many people? What are their expectations of this treatment for you? Are there other options which could produce the same results?

Open quotesAsk your doctor why they are recommending chemotherapyClose quotes

3: What has the success rate been? Does the doctor expect the tumour to go completely, or just reduce in size? Do they think your Cancer might become active again after treatment? If so, after what period of time? What else can be tried if the chemo doesn´t work? Are there any clinical trials open, which may be suitable for you?

4: What are the risks in having the treatment? How will your doctor assess its effectiveness? What are the worst reported and also the least reported, side effects during and after this treatment?

5: Ask your doctor what action he will take if you are losing a lot of weight and obviously not getting sufficient nutrition. Also, if you want to use herbal and natural remedies to help with the side effects, would he be prepared to work with you and discuss suitable treatments? Does he take any measures to support the immune system during treatment? If fatigue becomes a major problem, does he have methods for tackling it?

6: Check whether the treatment will affect fertility. If so, will you be offered opportunities for harvesting eggs/freezing sperm?

7: Prepare your body for the chemical onslaught: Take Astragalus, Cats Claw, Turmeric (curcumin) and echinacea to boost your immune system (all available in the independent Natural Selection shop - click here ). Try a corrective colloidal vitamin and mineral supplement. There is a lot of research on the benefits of medicinal mushrooms to improve chemotherapy results and cut side-effects. Eat a healthier diet cutting sodium-rich foods and eating more potassium-rich ones. Cut down on animal fats especially cows dairy, saturated fats and trans fats. They poison the lymph and inhibit the immune system. 

8: icons integrative nurse Patricia Peat suggests consulting a holistic practitioner, nutritionist or medical herbalist as soon as possible to have a settled regime before commencing chemotherapy. But remember to tell your specialist what complementary treatments you are taking/having in case of possible reactions between the treatments. If he tells you that something is contra-indicated though, ask for the research evidence.

Open quotesConsult a holistic practitioner, nutritionist or medical herbalist 
                                        as soon as possible
Close quotes

9: Next stage - During Chemotherapy, drink up to three litres of glass bottled or reverse osmosis filtered water a day and take your anti-sickness medication regularly to prevent nausea building up. (Peppermint tea, or an infusion of fresh ginger can help here. Some people even chew a small piece of raw ginger).

10: Eat small amounts of nourishing food regularly, rather than one or two large meals a day. See A Diet for Chemotherapy by clicking here. 

11: Try to avoid all cows´ dairy, saturated and polyunsaturated fats and spicy foods.

12: Antioxidant supplementation produces huge controversy. You are encouraged to eat lots of fruit and vegetables but then, at the same time, the oncologist says that antioxidant supplements will protect the cancer cells during chemo. As chemo- drugs become more targeted this argument should end. However there are a number of natural compounds that have been shown in research to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and improve survival rates. These include astragalus, vitamin D, green tea and medicinal mushrooms. Curcumin, cod liver oil, ginger, garlic and aloe vera will all calm down inflammation and bad eicosdanoid production. Eat whole greens and grains, seeds and nuts - and take vitamin K, a B complex and a multi-strain probiotic. Many of these are available in the Natural Selection shop - click here

13: On the subject of medicinal mushrooms, Dr. Julian Kenyon, from the Dove Clinic, advises protecting the cell mediated immune function with them. He says, "The one to take is Coriolus (as a powder), 4 grams, three times a day." MGN-3 works in a similar immune boosting way. But these are expensive. You should also try to avoid an acid body.

14: Avoid all alcohol as your liver doesnt need any more toxins. It needs strengthening. Natural herbs such as 200mgs of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) and soya lecithin in research help to protect and help to "defat it. Supporting of the liver function is also helped by the use of N-Acetyl Cysteine, an amino acid which raises glutathione levels and helps the livers detoxification pathways. Focus on magnesium-rich foods. 40 per cent of the population are deficient.

Open quotesForce yourself to walk around and take exercise - even though 
                        you probably wont want to
Close quotes

15: Ask a cranial osteopath or acupuncturist to rebalance the energy flow around the body and help with nausea. Try yoga too. You can continue to see your hands on healer.

16: Force yourself to walk around and take exercise, even though you probably wont want to. This does not have to be strenuous but it does need to be daily according to a number of recent research studies. Yoga and Tai chi are not strenuous but have massive benefits even when its the first time you do them. As a minimum do 20 minutes deep breathing exercises every day. Get out in the fresh air.

17: After chemotherapy, try a Liver Flush using Epsom Salts and olive oil to clean up your system. But bear in mind that the chemical effects of the chemo will be expected to go on for 6-8 weeks after the last dose.

18: Astragalus, Cats claw, Echinacea and Cassie tea (Essiac) can all be taken after treatment is finished, to re-stimulate the immune system. Kerep yeasts in check with Pau Darco, oregano, cinnamon and wormwood, plus a multi-strain probiotic.  Adults can also take wild yam to boost their DHEA levels; everyone can eat salads and carbohydrate in the evening (carbohydrates and salads aid seratonin production, which in turn stimulates melatonin levels and helps sleep and fight hormonally driven cancers).

19: You must stimulate both body and mind. Use light massage, reflexology, healing. It is a proven fact that visualisation, yoga and meditation all help boost the immune system and have a significant effect on long-term survival rates, so take time each day to use relaxation techniques.

20: Fatigue comes with every chemo treatment! Yes you can and should rest. Moreover, research by Italian scientists has identified that it is linked to loss of carnitine in the blood as a result of the chemotherapy toxins. In tests (albeit involving just 50) patients given a high energy drink containing levocarnitine 90% of the patients no longer felt tired just a week after starting the drink.

We stress the need to consult your medical practitioner at all times when taking supplements. Whilst some (for example the use of ginger to quell nausea; or the use of medicinal mushrooms to reduce side effects) have come through clinical trials, other ideas have come through expert research only. More can be found throughout this web site especially in our research centre Cancer Watch.


Click here for more details.
Want the latest news on this?
Email:
Print This Page
 
  Search Website
 
table-top

The CANCERactive Patient Group (CAPG) – Run by Patients, for Patients

  • Tell your Story
  • Start a Blog
  • Start a Diary Blog
  • Start a Discussion
  • Ask a Question

Search Drugs
table-top

CANCER DRUGS

Quick search for YOUR DRUG here  

Search Drugs
table-top

COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES

Quick search for a COMPLEMENTARY THERAPY here 

Search Complementary Therapies
table-top

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

Quick search an ALTERNATIVE CANCER TREATMENT here

Search Alternative Therapies
table-top



Important Notice

At CANCERactive we provide information that is already in the public domain.  It is not our intention to provide advice. It is up to the reader to decide if any of the matters to which any article refers might be suitable for them.

table-top
table-top
table-top



Follow CHRIS WOOLLAMS, the UK's number 1 cancer researcher, on his free e-news and keep right up to date with the very latest cancer information and research





 click here


  click here


table-top



CANCERactive information and publications (books, magazine and leaflets)

CANCERactive compiled books

The Secret Source of Your Good Health



A real paradigm shift - this book will help you really understand exactly what to do to be in great health.

Click here to find out more.

The Brand new 4th edition of Everything You Need to Know to Help You Beat Cancer



"This book is head and shoulders above the rest". Geoffrey Boycott

Click here to find out more.

The Rainbow Diet - and how it can help you beat cancer



"At last the definitive book on a diet to fight cancer". Mrs BS Devon.

 Click here to find out more...


Brand new 3rd edition of Oestrogen The Killer in our Midst



"Learn how to take control of your oestrogen levels"

 Click here to find out more...

CANCERactive magazine (free in hospitals and complementary cancer centres)

icon

Free downloadable prevention leaflets

Cancer




Buy online
table-top

Donate to Us

We can only help people like you - if people like you help us!

Buy online
table-top

Fund Raising

SKYDIVING/
PARACHUTING


Interested? Click here for more information


Click here to see all our fundraising events.


Click here and see what events are taking place and perhaps sponsor one of our supporters. 

Click here for other ways to raise money for CANCERactive.

Or if you want more information about our other fun activities, the Peru trek, our sky diving etc. click the button below.

Click here for our Just Giving page and see what our supporters are doing for us.

Buy online
table-top

Sign up for icon

 






Our 68 page icon magazine is available free in over 500 UK hospitals, cancer centres and libraries. Full of great articles and the very latest cancer information, you can have it sent to your own home.

Buy online
table-top

Visit a Catherine Corner

Catherine Wollams

Buy online
table-top

Need a Support Group?  

Find a cancer support group near you, now.
Buy online
table-top

So what is the truth behind mammograms, drug clinical trials, the PSA test and prostate surgery, and the stories you read in the press? Go to Junk Science to read the unbiased truth. Click Here.

table-top

Do you have a problem with our factual content?

If you have research which conflicts with ours, just address it to 'The Medical Board'. Ever since we started this site we have had an 'open-mind' policy and have expert oncology doctors and professors who will address your concerns.

 
© Copyright 2012 CANCERactive. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format and provided, where used to publish on a website, that website provides a link to www.canceractive.com. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from CANCERactive is required.
All content and images © Copyright 2009 - Website design and maintenance by Dualmedia.co.uk a Web design and Search engine marketing company