Cochise Oncology

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At What Cancer Stage is Chemotherapy a Treatment?

Clinicians classify four stages of cancer, depending on the advancement of the disease. Chemotherapy can be used at any stage of cancer, from IA/IB to IV. 

The nature of chemo varies according to the type of cancer the patient has. Doctors may recommend that breast cancer patients receive chemotherapy if they find early-stage tumors in the lymph nodes. They may also recommend chemo for stage IV metastatic cancer, where cancerous cells have spread to other parts of the body.

What is Chemotherapy?

The term chemotherapy refers to an assortment of drugs designed to interrupt the progression of cancer and destroy cancerous cells while preserving healthy ones. Some drugs work by preventing cancer cells from growing and dividing. In contrast, others are “cytotoxic,” meaning that they attach cancer cells themselves. 

Medical professionals refer to chemotherapy is a form of systemic treatment, like immunotherapy. Unlike targeted cancer therapy, radiation, or surgery, it exerts its effects across the entire body. 

This property of these drugs offers both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, it means that patients can target metastasized tumors all over the body. On the downside, it can lead to side effects in some patients, such as fatigue, dry mouth, anemia, hair loss, and insomnia (among others).

Chemotherapy and Cancer 

Chemotherapy drugs generally have three independent goals. The first is to ease cancer symptoms in patients with advanced disease. Clinicians call this type of intervention “palliative chemotherapy.” In this case, the goal is to reduce suffering in a patient, rather than cure the disease outright. 

The second class of chemotherapy drugs aims to shrink tumors and stop cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. For more benign forms of the disease, practitioners at Cochise Oncology will often opt to manage the condition like it is a chronic disease over the long-term, instead of attempting to excise it entirely from the body. Decisions like these are made on a cost-benefit basis. Often, it is better for the patient’s overall survival chances to go down the control route, instead of shooting for a full-blown cure. 

The third and final class of drugs attempts to rid the body of cancer entirely. Doctors rarely speak of a “cure” per se, but they do classify some drugs as having “curative intent.” This form of chemo destroys existing cancer and attempts to prevent it from coming back in the future.

REQUEST A CONSULTATION

Simply fill out the form on this page to request an appointment and one of our knowledgable team members will reach out to you. Or call our Sierra Vista oncology center to schedule directly at (520) 803-6644.

When Should You Consider Chemotherapy?

Whether you choose chemotherapy depends on your type of cancer, age, the current state of your health, and the stage of the disease. Patients and doctors at Cochise Oncology usually come to decisions regarding treatment together. You will discuss the drug combinations available to you and how various treatment plans are likely to affect other aspects of your life. 

Most oncologists (cancer doctors) prescribe multiple medications proven to help treat cancer through various clinical trials. The combination you receive depends on other health conditions you have or currently prescribed medications.

Testimonials

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At Cochise Oncology, we know optimal cancer treatment places the patient first – and our patients experience this every day. Read what our satisfied patients are saying about their experiences at Cochise Oncology.

Take the Next Step

Are you ready to learn more about chemotherapy? Reach out to Cochise Oncology at (520) 803-6644 or fill out the consultation form on this page. We look forward to meeting you!

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