Pros and Cons of Chemotherapy


Chemotherapy has become one of the standard treatment modules for people who have cancer. The treatment often aims to kill the cancer cells and help patients get better but, in certain cases, they can be used to extend the life of the patient or at least help him manage the symptoms he experiences. Chemotherapy can be used on its own, but it’s also partnered with other treatments like surgery and radiation therapy.

Many people believe that chemotherapy can bring about several benefits, but others point out that it’s not always as helpful as it seems. To understand the two sides of this argument, one must know about the pros and cons of chemotherapy.

List of Pros of Chemotherapy

1. It can help cure cancer.
Many people who have early-stage cancer have gotten better through chemotherapy along with other kinds of treatment. Their cancer cells were eliminated through the right chemotherapeutic agents paired with surgery and radiation, allowing them to get better and lead normal lives.

2. It can help keep cancer under control.
In most cases, chemotherapy isn’t powerful enough to treat those with advanced stages of cancer and free them from the illness. However, it can help them manage their symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.

3. It helps patients extend their life.
Chemotherapy can slow down the growth of cancer cells and prevent them from spreading further from the original site. As a result, patients can have longer lives, and they’ll have enough time to write their will, scratch several things off their bucket list, get their financial affairs in order, and make a few more memories with their family and friends.

List of Cons of Chemotherapy

1. It brings many side effects and adverse effects.
Chemotherapeutic agents are strong chemicals that can kill not just cancer cells but also healthy cells. This, in turn, results to a wide range of side effects. One of the most common is pain, which is one of the reasons why many cancer patients need strong painkillers like morphine. Another is nausea, which is caused by the fact chemotherapy drugs target fast-dividing cells (such as gastrointestinal cells) and inadvertently damage the gastrointestinal system in the process. Vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation are also common for the same reason.

Chemotherapy can also bring about adverse effects, such as organ damage. Many chemotherapeutic drugs may even cause certain kinds of cancer. Tamoxifen, for instance, is used to treat breast cancer, but studies have found out that it can promote liver, uterus, and ovarian cancer.

2. It can be expensive.
In many countries, the government helps cancer patients pay for their chemotherapy. In the U.S., for example, Medicare Part A and Part B provides assistance to those who obtain inpatient and outpatient chemotherapy, respectively. Despite this, it can’t be denied that chemotherapy is expensive. Patients on Medicare still have to pay the deductible as well as a portion of the overall cost (around 20 percent), which can be difficult for those who have low income or don’t have a job.

3. It is not easily available.
Not all hospitals can provide chemotherapy. So, if a patient is diagnosed with cancer but his local hospital doesn’t offer chemotherapy, he may have to move to be closer to another hospital that does offer this type of treatment. This, in turn, can translate to sky-high costs since he’ll have to rent an apartment and perhaps even hire a carer to assist him. If he’s unwilling to move, he’ll have to face a long commute and large transportation expenses.

These are just some of the pros and cons of chemotherapy. Patients and their families should consider these carefully and discuss them with their doctors to decide if chemotherapy is the right option for them or not.