There is no single cure for cancer. Different cancers have different needs regarding treatment. This means that each type of cancer has its treatment protocol based on the patient’s condition and other factors, such as age and quality of life. Chemotherapy is a standard part of most cancer treatments, whether systemic chemotherapy (given by mouth) or local chemotherapy given by injection into a vein or muscle. These drugs are designed to kill cancer cells, preventing them from growing and spreading. Oral chemotherapeutic agents can be used alone or in groups to target specific symptoms, stages, or causes in primary tumors or metastatic sites. We may also use surgery and/or radiation therapy along with these treatments to make them even more effective.
Overview of Oral Chemotherapy in Cancer
Oral chemotherapy drugs are formulated to release drugs inside the body via the oral route. For the last few decades, oral chemotherapy has been one of the oldest and most effective new ways to administer medicine. Oral chemotherapy drugs are a convenient way to give drugs that may not be well absorbed by other routes (like intravenous) or that are not well absorbed by oral routes (like sublingual, buccal, or transdermal).
Mechanisms of action of oral chemotherapy drugs
Oral chemotherapy drugs bind to receptors on the surface of tumor cells. This turns on G proteins and raises the number of calcium ions inside the tumor cells. Calcium helps trigger apoptosis – cancer cells die because they can’t reproduce and invade new tissues. Treatment with oral chemotherapy agents is known as “chemoprevention.” Chemoprevention is a strategy that uses drugs to prevent cancer rather than treat it once it has occurred.
Side effects of oral chemotherapy in cancer
The most common side effects of oral chemotherapy are nausea and vomiting caused by the hormones released by the tumor-fighting cells. Hormones released by the body are meant to cause unpleasant side effects, including nausea so that they can be weeded out of the body. Oral chemotherapy drugs may cause many other side effects. Some common side effects of oral chemotherapy include: – Enlarged spleen is a blood-producing organ in the abdomen. It helps fight infections by releasing white blood cells. – Jaundice – This symptom is caused by high levels of a yellow pigment called bilirubin in the blood. – Tooth discoloration – Some oral chemotherapy drugs cause discoloration of teeth. – Rash – Oral chemotherapy drugs can sometimes cause rashes. – Loss of taste – One side effect of oral chemotherapy is that it can cause taste buds to lose their ability to detect sweet or salty tastes. – Nausea – This is the most common side effect.
Pre-treatment procedures for oral chemotherapy in cancer
Pre-treatment procedures are generally done before chemotherapy treatment is started. Sometimes, pre-treatment procedures are done after the cancer is diagnosed, but it is still under surveillance or in its early stages. – Prophylactic antibiotics – Before chemotherapy is given, some patients are given antibiotics to kill off any bacteria that may have come in contact with the tumor or chemotherapy drugs. – Radioactive iodine-131 brachytherapy – In this procedure, radioactive iodine is placed directly beneath the tumor using a tiny catheter. This type of radioactive iodine is used only for cervical cancers because it does not enter the body’s other organs. – Hyperbaric oxygen – This method uses high-pressure oxygen to increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy. – Surgery – Pre-treatment procedures may include surgery to remove abnormal tissue from the mouth, throat, or lungs if these organs may be at risk of damage during the treatment. – Chemotherapy and radiation are delivered at the same time In some cases, chemotherapy and radiation are administered concurrently. – Metastatic scan: During treatment, doctors may order scans to look for signs of cancer in other parts of the body. – Radiation therapy – Some oral chemotherapeutic agents are very effective in killing cancerous cells but leave normal tissue around the tumor unharmed. This is called neo-adjuvant chemotherapy.
Post-treatment procedures for oral chemotherapy in cancer
Post-treatment procedures are generally done after the chemotherapy has ended, to help prevent relapses or health problems associated with long-term side effects. – Supportive care – Supportive care includes managing any side effects of the chemotherapy and getting any health problems treated. – Physical therapy – This helps to strengthen muscles and improve general health so that a patient can resume normal daily activities more efficiently. – Mouth care – Mouth care can include brushing, rinsing, and flossing teeth and gums. – Psychosocial support – Psychosocial support can help patients deal with the emotional effects of cancer and treatment.
Oral chemotherapeutic agents are one of the most common types of cancer treatment. They can be given by mouth or injected into the veins. Many oral chemotherapeutic drugs kill cancer cells by making it hard for them to take in oxygen. But there are also several that are designed to increase the cells’ sensitivity to oxygen. The exact mechanism of action of oral chemotherapy agents may vary between types of cancer and may also vary between different types of oral chemotherapy agents. These drugs are one of the most common types of cancer treatment.
Dr. Ronald Bissell is a retired surgeon, author of 6 books on Personal and Spiritual Growth, writer of numerous articles and facilitator of workshops. He has been giving talks to help people with life-threatening diseases for the past 10 years. After three years of chemotherapy he recently had a bone marrow transplant to treat Multiple Myeloma. His work now involves helping others with life-threatening diseases as well as teaching people how to live their best lives without fear or anxiety.