Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment given to patients before surgery. This medication aids in the shrinking of cancer tumors, making their removal easier. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy can eliminate cancer tissues that are difficult to detect by imaging testing. Doctors frequently use neoadjuvant chemotherapy as a test to see how cancer responds to a specific medication. They may decide to try a new medication or a combination of two or three medications.
Oncologists may recommend either neoadjuvant/adjuvant chemotherapy depending on the following factors:
- Type of cancer
- Cancer progress
- Treatment objectives
- Patient tolerance toward medication
The following are some advantages of neoadjuvant chemotherapy:
- Easier surgical removal of tumors
- Making tumors better operable
- Minimizing the need for mastectomies
The neoadjuvant chemotherapy, in certain cases, is so effective that it minimizes the risk of cancer recurrence.
The most common routes of administration for anticancer medicines are oral or parenteral.
How is Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy performed?
Doctors often use a combination of two or three medications simultaneously. If cancer doesn't respond to a drug, doctors will switch to another drug. Some categories of drugs used for this purpose are anthracyclines, taxanes, 5-fluorouracil, cyclophosphamide, and carboplatin. They may choose to try a new drug category or a combination of medications.
Preparation For Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy
Oncologists may recommend neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy depending on several criteria, including the type of cancer, its course, treatment goals (such as alleviating symptoms or reducing growth), and a person's ability to tolerate numerous therapies.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy can be given in the following ways:
- oral route
- intravenous, using an IV line
The administration method will be decided based on factors such as cancer type and its stage and medication prescribed by oncologists.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is normally given in repeated cycles, with a brief break between each treatment. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer usually lasts 3–6 months.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy can be given in a clinic, hospital, or at home. Depending on the procedure, the therapy can take a few minutes or several hours.
Risks of Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy may cause the following adverse effects:
- Vomiting or nausea
- Hair thinning
- Changes in the skin or nails
- Changes in weight and appetite
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Mouth ulcers
Doctors can prescribe medications to manage certain side effects, such as vomiting. These side effects often subside once chemotherapy is completed.
On the other hand, chemotherapy can have considerable long-term consequences in some circumstances, such as hand-foot syndrome where both hands and feet are affected, injury to the nerves, heart, ovaries, and decreased mental capacity.
The older a person is when they begin chemotherapy, the greater the chance of infertility. However, methods such as embryo or egg freezing exist for preserving fertility before the therapy. Alternatively, after therapy, a person can look for an egg donor. People who want to start a family after chemotherapy might talk to a doctor about their options before commencing treatment.
Infertility and other long-term complications of cancer therapy can cause stress, despair, and anger even if a person does not intend to become pregnant after their treatment. It's critical to get help if you're dealing with the mental health repercussions of cancer and chemotherapy.
Recovery From Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy
Before a person's primary cancer treatment, doctors administer neoadjuvant chemotherapy. It can reduce tumors for surgery in previously inoperable locations. It can also be used to test chemotherapeutic drugs to see how the body reacts to them.
The success of neoadjuvant chemotherapy is determined by a variety of factors, including the cancer type and stage, as well as the patient’s reaction to various medications. If a person has any concerns about their treatment plan, they should consult with their physician.
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