Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy works in a pattern of stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide quickly. It can also harm quickly dividing healthy cells, such as those that lie in the mouth and intestines or cause hair to grow. Damage to healthy cells may cause side effects.Often, these side effects get better or go away after chemotherapy is over.
Chemotherapy is divided into two categories - Neo-adjuvant and adjuvant chemotherapies. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is a type which is delivered before surgery or radiotherapy, while Adjuvant Chemotherapy is delivered after the surgery or radiotherapy. Chemotherapy may be used to destroy cancer cells that have come back (recurrent cancer) or spread to other parts of the body (metastatic cancer). Earlier, there used to be less number of chemotherapy drugs but today, we have several options of giving 1st, 2nd, and 3rd line drugs. Advances in supportive care for chemotherapy has helped patients and families to cope with treatment better.
Targeted therapy is completely different from the traditional chemotherapy. Targeted therapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to target specific genes and proteins that are involved in the growth and survival of cancer cells. This helps in stopping the cancer from growing and spreading to other organs. These genes and proteins are found in cancer cells or in other cells which could be related to cancer growth, like breast cancer, blood vessel cells, etc. To match the best targeted therapy for your tumor, your doctor might order tests to learn about the genes, proteins, and other factors that are unique to your tumor. This helps find the most effective treatment.
Targeted therapies can work well in combination with other treatment types, such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and targeted therapy (treatments designed to target the specific cell mechanisms that are important for the growth and survival of cancer cells). One example of a combined treatment approach is attaching a monoclonal antibody to a chemotherapy drug; the antibody seeks out and hones in on a specific molecule on the tumour cell, bringing the chemotherapy with it. This approach can kill tumor cells or stop them from dividing without harming normal cells.
Some cancers cells use hormones to grow or develop, which means the cancer is hormone sensitive or hormone dependent. Hormone therapy for cancer, uses medicines to block or reduce the amount of hormones in the body to stop or slow down the growth of cancer. Hormone therapy stops hormones from being developed or prevents hormones from making cancer cells grow and divide. It does not work for all types of cancers.