What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs. These drugs are designed to interfere with and halt the growth of rapidly dividing cancer cells in the body. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), we work closely with our patients to meet your individual needs before, during and after chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy is an important part of treatment for many of our patients. Our physicians use leading treatment protocols and practice evidence-based medicine. In some cases, we may use innovative delivery methods to treat advanced stage cancer.
We strive to find the right chemotherapy drug, or combination of drugs, for each person. We may use tests, such as tumor molecular profiling, to identify an effective drug combination for your disease and help you avoid unnecessary toxicity.
We also understand that chemotherapy can have unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue and mouth sores. We will work with the rest of your care team to help you prevent or manage these side effects.
In addition, throughout your treatment, we will continually monitor the effectiveness of your chemotherapy regimen with physical exams, blood tests and imaging scans.
Chemotherapy medical animation
Video: Chemotherapy Medical AnimationMedical animation
Chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer
If pancreatic cancer chemotherapy is part of your personal treatment plan, your medical oncologist will use a combination of chemotherapy medications customized to your individual needs. Chemotherapy may be used alone, or in combination with other pancreatic cancer treatments like radiation therapy or surgery.
For pancreatic cancer, chemotherapy is often given concurrently with radiation therapy, called chemoradiation.
Some examples of common chemotherapy drugs for pancreatic cancer: 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), gemcitabine, cisplatin and capecitabine.
For pancreatic cancer patients with liver metastasis, our doctors sometimes use intra-arterial chemotherapy (IAC). With IAC, we can administer chemotherapy directly into tumors in the liver. This allows the chemotherapy drugs to be concentrated within the tumor, destroying cancer cells while minimizing exposure to healthy tissues.
Managing chemotherapy side effects
We understand the potential side effects of chemotherapy are unpleasant and may include nausea, vomiting, hair loss and mouth sores. Your care team will use multiple measures to help reduce or moderate chemotherapy-related symptoms.
Prior to receiving chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, you may receive pre-medications to help make symptoms more tolerable.
During chemotherapy, your care team can also provide integrative oncology services to ease side effects. For example, your naturopathic clinician may recommend supplements to reduce nausea. Also, your mind-body therapist can recommend mind-body techniques to help you relax and feel less anxious during your pancreatic cancer chemotherapy treatments.