Pancreatic Cancer Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Doctors also give chemotherapy to help reduce pain and other problems caused by pancreatic cancer. It may be given alone, with radiation, or with surgery and radiation.
Chemotherapy is systemic therapy. The doctor usually gives the drugs by injection. Once in the bloodstream, the drugs travel throughout the body.
Usually chemotherapy is an outpatient treatment given at the hospital, clinic, doctor's office, or home. However, depending on which drugs are given and the patient's general health, the patient may need to stay in the hospital. Patients may want to ask these questions about chemotherapy:
The side effects of chemotherapy depend mainly on the drugs and the doses the patient receives as well as how the drugs are given. In addition, as with other types of treatment, side effects vary from patient to patient.
Systemic chemotherapy affects rapidly dividing cells throughout the body, including blood cells. Blood cells fight infection, help the blood to clot, and carry oxygen to all parts of the body. When anticancer drugs damage healthy blood cells, patients are more likely to get infections, may bruise or bleed easily, and may have less energy. Cells in hair roots and cells that line the digestive tract also divide rapidly. As a result, patients may lose their hair and may have other side effects such as poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, or mouth sores. Usually, these side effects go away gradually during the recovery periods between treatments or after treatment is over. The health care team can suggest ways to relieve side effects.