Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. It can be just one drug or several drugs, taken from a choice of about 50 different drugs available.

Chemotherapy may be used alone to treat cancer or together with surgery and/or radiotherapy.

Chemotherapy And Anemia


Managing Anemia

Anemia is a side effect experienced by more than 60% of patients undergoing chemotherapy. The condition, a low level of red blood cells, is characterized by feelings of weakness, fatigue, dizziness, irritability, shortness of breath, and chills.

Why does it happen? Because chemotherapy drugs can reduce the bone marrow's ability to make red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body, providing the energy needed for normal activities.

1. Chemotherapeutic
2. Chemotherapy not only destroys red blood cells, it suppresses the bone marrow's ability to produce new ones, causing anemia.
3. The hemoglobin in red blood cells carries and releases oxygen throughout the body. Oxygen acts
like fuel for the body, providing energy for muscles and organs to work.
4. Energy levels can plummet due to lack of oxygen rich red blood cells.

When anticancer drugs keep blood cells from getting the oxygen they need, the cells are unable to do their job, and patients are more likely to feel the debilitating effects of fatigue.

To support normal movement in anemic patients, the heart tries to make up for the shortage of oxygen in the blood. It works harder to move the red blood cells more quickly and deliver oxygen faster. This increased workload can put an additional burden on the heart. Thus, you are most likely to feel the effects of anemia during any kind of physical activity.

Your doctor will check your blood often during treatment. If your red count falls below normal levels, you may need a medication, PROCRIT® (Epoetin alfa), that works to increase the number of red blood cells in your body. Therapy with PROCRIT can prevent the need for a blood transfusion.


Have You Noticed A Change?

...in your energy level?
...in the things you are able to do?
...in your strength during day to day tasks?

If you're noticing that you have less energy during everyday activities since you began chemotherapy, and if you feel more tired than usual, you might have anemia. Here are the general symptoms of anemia:

The most common is fatigue - or lack of energy
Dizziness
Headache
Loss Of Sex Drive
Inability To Concentrate
Shortness Of Breath

What Is Anemia?


Anemia is the result of a lower than normal level of red blood cells (RBCs). This can be caused by such events as blood loss
(as in surgery), or by certain diseases, such as cancer or HIV.
Because the hemoglobin in RBCs carries the oxygen vital to all parts
of your body, a decrease means your body works harder to get
oxygen through your body, which can place a strain on your heart.
The extra demands placed on your body can cause excessive
tiredness, or fatigue.

The symptoms of anemia can become so severe, that some people
can become bedridden. They can't work or even perform basic daily activities, like food shopping or taking the dog for a walk.

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you may have anemia without even knowing it. Take the Anemia Self Assessment and discuss the results with your doctor.


How Does Chemotherapy Work?

According to the National Cancer Institute, normal cells grow and die in a controlled way through a process called apoptosis. Cancer cells keep dividing and forming more cells without a control mechanism. Anticancer drugs destroy cancer cells by stopping them from growing or multiplying at one or more points in their growth cycle. Chemotherapy may consist of one or several cytotoxic drugs, depending on the type of cancer being treated.

In addition to chemotherapy, other methods are sometimes used to treat cancer. For example, your doctor may recommend that you have surgery to remove a tumor or to relieve certain symptoms that may be caused by your cancer. You also may receive radiation therapy to treat your cancer orits symptoms. Sometimes your doctor may suggest a combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and/or radiation therapy.

The goal of chemotherapy is to shrink primary tumors, slow the tumor growth, and to kill cancer cells that may have spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body from the original tumor. Chemotherapy kills both cancer and healthy cells. The goal is to minimize damage to normal cells and to enhance the cytotoxic effect to cancer cells.

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