Cancer is of different types and so are its treatments. Cancer treatment depend on the type of cancer, the stage and the person who is receiving it. Some cancer treatments are curative, while some are palliative.
Table of content:
- What is palliative chemotherapy?
- When is the purpose of palliative chemotherapy?
- Pros and cons of palliative chemotherapy
- Potential side effects of palliative chemotherapy
- Types of cancer in which palliative chemotherapy is used
Palliative chemotherapy is the type of cancer treatment that is given to cancer patients for symptom relief and better the quality of life. While it is believed that palliative chemotherapy is the last resort care, it is often provided alongside curative care and at any time during the treatment of the illness.
Palliative chemotherapy generally has different functions compared to normal chemo therapy. Chemotherapy is generally used to cure the cancer patient which is not the case with palliative chemotherapy.
When is the purpose of palliative chemotherapy for cancer treatment?
Chemotherapy is suggested for cancer patients in two situations:
- Cancer treatment to prevent it from coming back
- To help shrink the cancer, reduce the symptoms, improve the condition of life for the patient, and possibly prolong their living
When it is the second case, palliative chemotherapy is used in such cases. It is typically used when the cancer has spread and chemotherapy is not being used to cure the cancer.
Pros and Cons of palliative chemotherapy
There are pros and cons to every medical treatment and it is similar for palliative chemotherapy. The decision to opt for it can be a difficult one.
The Pros of palliative chemotherapy are:
Improving quality of life
- Reduced symptoms
- Reduces the pain
- Possible prolonged life expectancy
The Cons of palliative chemotherapy are:
- Minimal benefits from the treatment
- The side effects
Potential side effects of palliative chemotherapy
The possible side effects associated with palliative chemotherapy are quite a few. Depending on the specific drug being used, they can include:
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Nausea and vomiting
- Easy bruising
- Concentration problems
Types of cancer in which palliative chemotherapy is used
Palliative chemotherapy can be used for a variety of cancers. However, the stage of cancer is a much bigger deciding factor than the type in palliative chemotherapy. The type of cancer is used to know what kind of drug is to be used in the chemotherapy.
There are a few types of cancer in which palliative chemotherapy has shown certain significant benefits:
- Pancreatic cancer: Palliative chemotherapy can reduce pain, physical function and improve life expectancy of a pancreatic cancer patient. It also slows down appetite loss and onset of other symptoms.
- Non-small cell lung cancer: Pain, cough and dyspnea can be improved with palliative chemotherapy.
- Breast cancer: Palliative chemotherapy helps with fatigue and improving quality of life.