or as a complementary treatment
Chemotherapy treatment at the Clínica
The objective of the treatment is to destroy tumorous cells in order to succeed in minimising the disease, by using a wide variety of pharmaceuticals.
The drugs used in this type of treatment are antineoplastic or chemotherapeutic.
Although it is possible to use only one type of medication, in general these medications are more efficient when used in certain combinations. The cancerous cells grow and divide quickly. Chemotherapy stops or delays the growth of the cancerous cells.
The frequency and duration of the chemotherapy depends on the type of cancer, the objectives of the treatment, the medication being used and the way in which the body responds to them.
Do you want to learn more about the Medical Oncology Department?
We have a Day Hospital, with highly qualified professionals, who offer specialised outpatient care for oncological and haematological patients.
Chemotherapy is carried out in cycles, alternating treatment periods with rest periods. A cycle is a period of time that runs from the administration of the first treatment until the next administration (including the rest period).
The majority of chemotherapeutic medication is administered via a tiny plastic tube, or a catheter, that is placed in a vein in the forearm or hand. Generally, with this intravenous method, it is necessary for the patient to go to Day Hospital. After a few hours there, the patient can go home until the start of the next cycle. The patient can also take the medication orally, in the form of tablets. The journey to hospital is only necessary for the regular monitoring of the treatment. Administering medication orally is used more and more frequently, but it's not always an available option.
Other means of administration include:
- Intrathecal - the catheter is placed in the spinal canal
- Intraarterial – the medication is injected directly into an artery to treat a single area (e.g. the liver, arm or knee)
- Intraperitoneal – inside the abdominal cavity
- Others: intramuscular, intralesional or topically
During the treatment, or even at the end, the oncologist prescribes a number of tests that assess how the tumour is responding to the Chemotherapy. These tests inform us if it has disappeared, diminished or remains the same, or if it's continuing to grow.
The tumour's response to the treatment is independent of the number and intensity of the side effects of the treatment.
Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, chemotherapy can be used to:
- Cure cancer
- Stop cancer spreading
- Delay the cancer's growth
- Destroy the cancerous cells that could spread to other parts of the body
- Alleviate symptoms caused by the cancer
Depending on when chemotherapy is administered there is:
- Induction or Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy – this the first type of chemotherapy to be carried out, before any focussed treatment such as radiotherapy or surgery
- Concomitant Chemotherapy – performed simultaneously with another treatment (usually radiotherapy)
- Adjuvant Chemotherapy – compliments another (normally local) treatment
Patients don't always suffer from side effects and when they do emerge are usually tolerable.
Currently, there is medication that allows patients to control these problems and to lead a practically normal life whilst receiving treatment.
A large proportion of patients can continue doing daily activities during treatment. Occasionally, it is necessary to reduce their daily routine and rest for a few days after the administration of treatment.
Learn more about Chemotherapy
The majority of chemotherapeutic drugs are designed to destroy the cells whilst they are dividing. The quicker they multiply, the more the disease affects the body. The normal cells with a higher probability of being affected are those which produce blood in the bone marrow, as well as the cells in the mouth, digestive tract, reproductive system and hair follicles.
The aggression of the treatment against these cells triggers some common side effects: nausea, vomiting, eating problems and anorexia, hair loss or alopecia, fatigue, anaemia and heightened sensitivity to infections.