According to the World Health Organization, also known as WHO, cancer is one of the major causes of death worldwide (“Cancer”). The disease can cause distress to any part of the body and can be diagnosed in multiple ways. There are countless amounts of theories on how it can possibly be developed, but none of these theories are accurate, which means cancer still remains a huge enigma. Unfortunately, the mortality rate for cancer is getting higher day by day, and the amount of treatment options is still very limited. A popular treatment that is usually suggested by doctors is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses chemical substances to execute cancer cells to prolong a healthy life. The treatment has received many positive feedbacks for many patients, but research shows that this treatment does not work for all types of cancer. Despite this, doctors around the world still suggest chemotherapy as an option to treat any form of cancer (Bollinger). Chemotherapy takes up a lot time and money to receive the treatment, however, the end results of accepting the treatment can be unpredictable and can come with many side effects.
Chemotherapy was first discovered during World War II, when a ship carrying a nerve agent, called sulfur mustards, was bombed and affected the troops on board. These troop members were then evaluated by doctors, who found that their blood calls had significantly dropped. This led researchers to examine whether these agents were able to stop cancer cells from growing and began to test their theory (Mandal). For the next couple of years, scientists and researchers will be trying to perfect the formula for chemotherapy to help people with cancer worldwide. Today, the goal of chemotherapy has yet to initially cure cancer once for all, but it is used to prevent or delay the progression of a disease. For instance, chemotherapy can be used to shrink tumors, which are a collection of abnormally growing cells that could grow on any part of the body.
These tumor can cause a lot of pain and pressure on wherever it inhabits, so shrinking the tumor would be very beneficial in a patient’s daily life. Since cancer cell can grow and spread rapidly, chemotherapy can also help slow down and execute the cancer cells. It prevents it from spreading to other body parts, which is a way of managing the cancer to keep it in one place, rather than having it spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy may also completely eliminate cancer cells once and for all (“Preface..”). In some cases, it can make the cancer disappear for many years, which can be verified as cured, but cancer can come back unexpectedly at any time. Although these advantages seem great, the results of chemotherapy can vary differently for every patients who decides to go through with the treatment.
There are countless amounts of sides effects when it comes to treatment for cancer and the side effects fluctuates differently for each patient. The most common side effects include nausea and vomiting, which can cause the loss of appetite and dehydration, and lead to major weight loss that can affect your everyday lifestyle (“Preface..”). Losing a great amount of weight in a short period of time can be very dangerous for a person with cancer, who should be eating to get their nutritious value to help fight the disease. As mentioned before, chemotherapy can also lower the amount of healthy blood cells, which can lead to anemia, easy bleeding, and bruising (Bollinger).
Since there is not enough infection-fighting white blood cells, due to the treatment, infections are common. The volume of lost blood cells varies, it depends on how big of a dose the drugs are and how many times a day it is given. Some other common side effects include: hair loss, peripheral neuropathy, cardiomyopathy, and many others (Bollinger). These side effects diverse for each patient, everyone reacts to it differently. If a patient had any pre-existing health conditions, it can actually intervene with these side effects, making the client in possibly poorer condition. Frequent trips to the hospital are necessary to make sure everything is in check and to prevent conditions from getting worse.
The amount of time and money that goes into chemotherapy is a huge downside for those without the luxury. Since cancer is unpredictable, numerous visits to the hospital is necessary to remain its consistency. The doctors will need to be constantly checking on the patient’s body thoroughly to make sure the cancer is not spreading anywhere else. Since every patient’s body reacts differently to chemotherapy, it can sometimes lead them in serious condition, which mean costly overnight stays at the hospital. These constant visits to the hospital is never cheap, seeing that each visit will most likely involve blood testing and x-rays, which can run a couple of grands. According to study, governments are not providing enough funds to dispense the common drug used in chemotherapy. Patients can be looking to pay twice as much for their treatment (“Fear..”).
This funding issue can also force private hospitals to close their doors and make patients drive even further for their treatment. The amount of time that a patient have to spend to drive to a hospital, wait for a doctor, receive treatment, and repeat is outrageous, considering the amount of money they have to put in as well. Many of these patients will most likely have anemia, which makes them too weak to work, so they would have to depend on their savings and family members to help pay for their treatment, which can be a huge downside for those without the luxury. In the end, all the time and effort to receive this expensive treatment, could have been all for nothing.
Chemotherapy results differs for each patient. In some cases, chemotherapy, although can kill cancer cells, it can also kill healthy cells as well, thus leading to other health problems. This is because the chemicals in chemotherapy are unable to differentiate between cancer cells and healthy cells, so it just kills all of them (Bollinger). The first thing that chemotherapy targets is your immune system, which is the backbone to your health. This is where all those side effects comes in and play a huge role in breaking your immune system down. Chemotherapy, although has prolonged life for many, is also the cause of many deaths worldwide. The drugs used in chemotherapy may also, ironically, give you cancer. For instance, doxorubicin is used in a lot of recipes for chemotherapy, but the label for doxorubicin, also states that it can increase your risk for developing leukemia, which is a type of cancer (Bollinger). In saying this, your doctor may have successfully treated you for your first disease with chemotherapy, but that can also develop another cancer elsewhere due to the ingredients used in the treatment (Bollinger). Due to the lack of knowledge on cancer, anything is possible.
Cancer has always been known as this horrible disease, with no successful cure. Even the most popular treatment for cancer can still cause as much damage as the illness itself. Chemotherapy can cause major side effects and horrendous end results that can put a major dent in your time and money invested in getting the treatment. There is just so many downsides and no promising outcome to chemotherapy, that makes people wonder if it is even worth it. Each and every person is different, and every patient will react differently to the treatment. The truth about chemotherapy is that, like cancer, it’s unpredictable.