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Chemotherapy — Overview, Symptoms, Treatments, and Other Resources.
Chemotherapy
Comprehensive Guides
Information on Chemotherapy from the National Library of Medicine
Chemotherapy refers to the use of drugs in the treatment of illness. Most commonly, chemotherapy refers to the use of drugs to treat cancer. It can be used to kill cancerous cells, keep tumors from spreading, or ease cancer symptoms. Chemotherapy works by targeting cells in the body that divide rapidly, including cancer cells. Since some healthy cells in the body divide rapidly, they may also be killed. This damage to healthy tissue may lead to side effects, such as nausea, hair loss, or a weakened immune system.

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Information on Chemo at the American Cancer Society
Chemotherapy, or chemo for short, means taking certain types of drugs to treat cancer. You might take these drugs before or after cancer surgery. You might take them with radiation (x-ray) treatment. Or you might take chemo alone. Chemo has been helping people beat cancer since the early 1950s. The chemo drugs your doctor uses have been tested again and again. Research shows they work. Partly because of chemo, many people with cancer can have full, healthy lives. Read more on chemotherapy at the American Cancer Society.

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Chemotherapy Primer form Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsyvania.
Chemotherapy, or the use of chemical agents to destroy cancer cells, is a mainstay in the treatment of malignancies. The possible role in treating illness was discovered when the bone marrow suppressive effect of nitrogen mustard was noted in the early 1900's. Since that time, the search for drugs with anticancer activity has continued, and the goal of treatment with chemotherapy has evolved from relief of symptoms to cancer cure. A major advantage of chemotherapy is its ability to treat widespread or metastatic cancer, whereas surgery and radiation therapy are limited to treating cancers that are confined to specific areas. More at Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsyvania.

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Videos and Podcasts
Video Video: Coping with chemotherapy for breast cancer
Watch the video at MayoClinic.com.

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Video Video: Chemotherapy
Experts and cancer patients talk about chemotherapy in this video provided at the NHS (UK) website.

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Clinical Practice Guidelines
The preferred chemotherapy regimen used to treat rectal cancer varies with age, gender, and degree of metastases
Over 41,000 individuals are diagnosed with rectal cancer each year in America. The most effective treatment approach for rectal cancer varies with age, gender, and degree of cancer spreading. The development of age appropriate treatment regimens has increased the overall survival rate. View the National Guideline Clearinghouse major recommendations.

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Treatment of breast cancer during pregnancy
There is no evidence that pregnancies should be terminated following a breast cancer diagnosis. Except for the first trimester, when the risk of spontaneous abortion is high, chemotherapy poses a low risk to the fetus. For early stage cancers, removal of the tumor can be performed with chemotherapy treatment withheld until the child is born. View the National Guideline Clearinghouse major recommendations.

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Long-term follow-up guidelines following chemotherapy
Many drugs used for chemotherapy have the potential to increase the risk of health conditions in the future. The age when treatment was administered, the dose used, and the length of chemotherapy use all influence this potential. See the National Guideline Clearinghouse major recommendations.

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Chemotherapy in HIV-infected individuals
Chemotherapy leads to suppression of the immune system. Since HIV-infected individuals may already face immune deficiency, special considerations should be taken when choosing an appropriate cancer treatment course. In addition, the simultaneous use of HIV drugs and chemotherapy may increase the potential for toxic side effects. View the National Guideline Clearinghouse major recommendations.

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Important Articles from Medical Journals
Abstract: Chemotherapy prior to surgery may not be beneficial for certain kinds of breast carcinoma.
The standard treatment for large, localized breast carcinomas is to shrink the mass with chemotherapy prior to removing it surgically. When the tumor is sufficiently reduced with chemotherapy, overall patient survival rates increase. However, patients with lobular tumors may not benefit from this approach. View the abstract in Pubmed.

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Abstract: Vaccinating children being treated with chemotherapy against influenza
Influenza infection of a child undergoing chemotherapy can be very dangerous, underscoring the importance of protecting this population. Until recently, it was unknown if this population benefited from influenza vaccination. Compared to healthy individuals, the immunological response of these children to the vaccine is significantly reduced. However, the presence of a response to influenza vaccination, albeit milder than normal, coupled with a low risk of side effects, argue in favor of vaccinating children undergoing chemotherapy. View the abstract in Pubmed.

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Abstract: Effect of chemotherapy on ovarian function.
Chemotherapeutic drugs indiscriminately kill cells that are rapidly dividing, including cancer cells. However, several other tissues in the body are composed of cells that may be harmed by these drugs. Chemotherapy may reduce the ability of the ovaries to make estrogen and ovulate normally. View the abstract in Pubmed.

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Abstract: New drugs are safe and effective for the treatment of breast cancer during pregnancy
Breast cancer is the most common solid tumor found in pregnant women. Treatment with anthracycline-based chemotherapy may be carried out, during the second and third trimesters, with low risk to the developing fetus. Some newer drugs are also emerging as safe alternatives. Anti-HER-2 agents should be avoided during pregnancy, because it can potentially disrupt normal kidney development in the fetus. View the abstract in Pubmed.

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Abstract: Platinum-based chemotherapeutic drugs are once again becoming a popular area of cancer research.
Cisplatin, a molecule based on the chemical element platinum, is a commonly used chemotherapeutic drug. Recent studies have identified the reason why some tumors are resistant to treatment with cisplatin. Recently, new drugs based on platinum have been developed. In addition, the mechanism behind the resistance of some cancers to platinum-based drugs is being uncovered. Regimens combining platinum-based drugs and inhibitors of the factors mediating resistance to these drugs are currently being tested. View the abstract in Pubmed.

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Abstract: Potential new cancer therapies may have reduced side effects compared to conventional chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is a mainstay treatment for cancer. However, these drugs damage some healthy cells, in addition to cancerous cells. A major area of research and development is targeting drugs to cancer cells specifically. In theory, this directed approach would spare healthy cells and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. View the abstract in Pubmed.

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Abstract: Blood-thinners may reduce the risk of blood clots in chemotherapy patients.
The treatment of blood clots in cancer patients can be difficult and may force chemotherapy to be delayed. In addition, chemotherapy itself raises the risk of developing a blood clot. A recent study concluded that chemotherapy patients taking a blood thinner cut their risk of developing a blood clot in half. View the abstract in Pubmed.

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