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Chemotherapy

The use of synthetic or naturally-occurring chemicals for the treatment of diseases. It is particularly used to refer to the use of chemical-based agents to treat cancer. Chemotherapy may also include agents that enhance immune function or alter hormonal activity.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Cancer Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs that can destroy cancer cells. These drugs often are called "anticancer" drugs. Anticancer drugs destroy cancer cells by stopping them from growing or multiplying.

Healthy cells can also be harmed, especially those that divide quickly. Harm to healthy cells is what causes side effects. These cells usually repair themselves after chemotherapy. NIH - National Cancer Institute

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

MI - Secondary Prevention: Secondary Prevention in Primary and Secondary Care for Patients Following a Myocardial Infarction: Partial Update of NICE CG48 [Internet]

Myocardial infarction (MI) remains one of the most dramatic presentations of coronary artery disease (CAD). Complete occlusion of the artery often produces myocardial necrosis and the classical picture of a heart attack with severe chest pain, electrocardiographic (ECG) changes of ST-segment elevation, and an elevated concentration of myocardial specific proteins in the circulation. Such people are described as having a ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Intermittent or partial occlusion produces similar, but often less severe clinical features, although no or transient and undetected ST elevation. Such cases are described as a non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). People who have suffered from either of these conditions are amenable to treatment to reduce the risk of further MI or other manifestations of vascular disease, secondary prevention.

Scalp Cooling to Prevent Chemotherapy-Induced Hair Loss [Internet]

Conclusions There is moderately strong scientific evidence that scalp hypothermia reduces the extent of hair loss when treating solid tumors with various non-taxane chemotherapies alone or in combination. There is limited scientific evidence showing that the method also reduces the extent of hair loss in taxane or taxane-based combination chemotherapy. There is no scientific documentation on the cost effectiveness of the method. Further studies of patient benefit, risks, and cost effectiveness are needed.

Drug therapy for pain in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or motor neuron disease

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease (MND), is the most common neurodegenerative disorder of the motor system in adults. Pain is a frequent symptom and may have a pronounced impact on quality of life and suffering. Despite an extensive search of different medical databases, this review was not able to identify any randomised controlled trials on drug therapy for pain in ALS. Currently (to July 2012) no evidence exists for using one type of treatment over another.

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Summaries for consumers

Drug therapy for pain in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or motor neuron disease

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease (MND), is the most common neurodegenerative disorder of the motor system in adults. Pain is a frequent symptom and may have a pronounced impact on quality of life and suffering. Despite an extensive search of different medical databases, this review was not able to identify any randomised controlled trials on drug therapy for pain in ALS. Currently (to July 2012) no evidence exists for using one type of treatment over another.

Drug therapy for delirium in terminally ill adult patients

There is limited evidence from clinical trials on the role of drug therapy for the treatment of delirium in terminally ill patients. The key feature of delirium is a decreased level of consciousness (awareness). People may experience impaired memory, thinking and judgement, and become disorientated. They may experience distressing hallucinations or delusions. It occurs frequently in patients with terminal illness, and may be caused by the illness itself or occur as a side effect of drug treatments for symptom management. Our search of the international literature for trials of drug therapies for the treatment of delirium in patients with terminal illness yielded one small study, and therefore it was not possible to assess the effectiveness of drug treatment options. It is hoped that this review will provide an incentive for further research.

Drug therapy for chronic idiopathic axonal polyneuropathy

The aim of this Cochrane Review was to assess the benefits and harms of drug therapy for chronic idiopathic axonal polyneuropathy (CIAP).

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Terms to know

Adjunct Therapy
Another treatment used together with the primary treatment. Its purpose is to assist the primary treatment. Also called adjunctive therapy.
Adjuvant Therapy
Additional cancer treatment given after the primary treatment to lower the risk that the cancer will come back. Adjuvant therapy may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or biological therapy.
Alopecia (Hair Loss)
The lack or loss of hair from areas of the body where hair is usually found.
Chemosensitivity
The susceptibility of tumor cells to the cell-killing effects of anticancer drugs.
Neoadjuvant Therapy
Treatment given as a first step to shrink a tumor before the main treatment, which is usually surgery, is given. Examples of neoadjuvant therapy include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. It is a type of induction therapy.

More about Chemotherapy

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Other terms to know: See all 5
Adjunct Therapy, Adjuvant Therapy, Alopecia (Hair Loss)

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