By Shannon Burford
Chemotherapy is a class of pharmaceutical drugs which attempts to weaken and destroy cancer cells in the body. The drugs are considered antineoplastic which kill cells including cells at the original cancer site and any cancer cells that may have spread to another part of the body. Chemotherapy works by killing all cells in the body which are dividing rapidly and uncontrolled, rapid growth is characteristic of most cancer cells.
Chemotherapy, often shortened to just "chemo," is a systemic therapy, which means it affects the whole body by going through the bloodstream.
There are quite a few chemotherapy medicines. In many cases, a combination of two or more medicines will be used as chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.
Nutrition and Herbal Medicine
Nutritional medicine and herbal medicine can be used to treat the side effects which arise from cancer treatment. When a patient experiences nausea or vomiting, for example, blended herbal medicines can be prescribed to reduce this side effect.
An ever increasing amount of evidence is available to support the use of "alternative medicine" for the treatment of patients with cancer and the Cura clinic uses evidence-based nutritional and herbal medicine for cancer patients.
To speak with a naturopath or to make an appointment, please contact the clinic.
Chemotherapy is commonly used for cancer in the following cases-
- early-stage invasive cancer to get rid of any cancer cells that may be left behind after surgery and to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back
- advanced-stage cancer to destroy or damage the cancer cells as much as possible
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy commonly causes nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, and low blood cell counts that lead to anemia and increased risk of infections. When patients receive chemotherapy they often lose their hair too.
Nausea and Vomiting
Patients are usually given anti-nausea medicine to reduce this feeling. Nausea may also be reduced by eating small meals and by avoiding foods that are high in fats, refined sugars or that are very hot or very cold. Simple foods in small amounts are usually the most tolerated.
Mouth Sores and other Bleeding
Many people develop inflammation or even sores of the mucous membranes, such as the lining of the mouth. Mouth sores are painful and can make eating difficult. Because the chemotherapy medicine is killing all fast growing cells, this includes the mucous membrane cells too. Nutritional support can be used to support the health of these cells to minimise inflammation.
Organ Damage / Failure
Sometimes drugs may damage other organs, such as the lungs, heart, or liver. For example the pharmaceutical anthracyclines cause heart damage when used in high total doses. The oncologist team will monitor organ function throughout the treatment.
The Claremont Medical Centre
The buliding combines a range of integrative medicine services. There are over 10 GPs on the lower ground level, a dentist and pathology collection centre on the ground floor. On the first floor there are several clinical psychologists, podiatrist, massage therapist, and naturopath.