Chemotherapy is the use of powerful drugs to treat certain diseases, most commonly cancer. In oral chemotherapy, these drugs are administered in pill form. The anti-cancer drugs slow or stop the growth of cancer cells, and are used to target many types of cancers in the body.
Baptist Health is nationally recognized for excellence in cancer care. We offer a comprehensive oncology program, including advanced treatments like oral chemotherapy. Best of all, you’ll appreciate convenient appointment times, locations near you and a personalized focus to meet your needs before, during and after your procedure.
What Is Oral Chemotherapy?
Oral chemotherapy puts cancer-fighting drugs directly into your bloodstream through a pill, so they travel throughout your body and reach any cancer cells. Depending on the type of cancer and goals of the chemotherapy, you may receive a variety of drugs and will have a personalized care plan that may involve taking chemotherapy pills over several weeks or months.
What Can Oral Chemotherapy Accomplish?
Oral chemotherapy can be used to achieve a variety of different goals as part of a broader approach to treating cancer. These include:
- Destroying cancer cells
- Slowing tumor growth or shrinking a tumor before using other treatments
- Relieving symptoms of advanced cancer
What Can I Expect During the Procedure?
Prior to receiving oral chemotherapy, your physician will discuss your care plan. You may undergo tests to make sure your body is healthy enough to undergo the chemotherapy, and may be asked to see your dentist to make sure you do not have any infections in your mouth.
Your physician will prescribe an oral chemotherapy regimen based on the drugs being given, the characteristics of your cancer and how well your body recovers after each treatment. Following the regimen will maximize the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drugs, so you will need to alert your physician if any issues such as nausea or vomiting are preventing you from taking your oral chemotherapy.
You will meet with your physician regularly during treatment to discuss any side effects, and you may also undergo scans and other tests to see how the chemotherapy is affecting the cancer, which will allow your physician to adjust your treatment as necessary.
Recovery between chemotherapy sessions will vary depending on the types of drugs used, your reaction to them, and your overall health. You may experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, easy bruising, loss of appetite, skin changes, mouth sores, diarrhea and hair loss following treatments, though these symptoms will gradually reside, and many can be prevented or treated.
Oral Chemotherapy Possible Risks
Most side effects of chemotherapy subside after treatment ends. Other risks of chemotherapy vary depending on the drugs used, and can include:
- Damage to lung tissue
- Heart problems
- Kidney problems
- Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy)
- Risk of a second cancer
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