Course Content
Introduction to Colorectal Cancer
Learn about the causes, symptoms, risk factors, prevention, treatment, and management of colorectal cancer. By the end of this course, you will have a better understanding of colorectal cancer and how to prevent, detect, and manage it.
Not Just A Gut Feeling: Understanding Colorectal Cancer
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What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a common treatment option for colorectal cancer, either as a standalone treatment or in combination with surgery or radiation therapy. It involves the use of powerful medications to destroy cancer cells or inhibit their growth. Here’s an overview of how chemotherapy is done, its effects, and possible side effects:

How is chemotherapy administered?

Intravenous (IV) Infusion. Chemotherapy drugs are often administered directly into a vein through an IV line. The drugs are delivered into the bloodstream, allowing them to reach cancer cells throughout the body.

Oral Medications. Some chemotherapy drugs are available in pill or capsule form and can be taken orally. These medications are absorbed into the bloodstream through the digestive system.

How does chemotherapy help?

Killing Cancer Cells. Chemotherapy drugs work by targeting rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells. They interfere with the cell’s ability to divide and multiply, ultimately leading to the destruction of cancer cells.

Shrinking Tumors. Chemotherapy may also help shrink tumors before surgery, making them more manageable for surgical removal.

Preventing Recurrence. In some cases, chemotherapy is used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of recurrence.

What are some possible side effects of chemotherapy?

Fatigue. Chemotherapy can cause feelings of extreme tiredness and lack of energy.

Nausea and Vomiting. Some chemotherapy drugs can trigger nausea and vomiting. Medications known as antiemetics are often prescribed to manage these side effects.

Hair Loss. Certain chemotherapy drugs can lead to hair loss or thinning. Hair usually grows back after treatment.

Weakened Immune System. Chemotherapy can temporarily lower the body’s immune system, increasing the risk of infections. Precautions, such as avoiding crowded places and practicing good hygiene, are advised during treatment.

Decreased Blood Cell Count. Chemotherapy can affect the production of blood cells in the bone marrow, leading to a decrease in red blood cells (anemia), white blood cells (increased infection risk), and platelets (increased bleeding risk).

Peripheral Neuropathy. Some chemotherapy drugs can cause damage to the nerves, leading to symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands and feet.

Bowel and Digestive Issues. Chemotherapy may cause diarrhea, constipation, or other gastrointestinal problems.

Skin and Nail Changes. Certain chemotherapy drugs can affect the skin and nails, causing dryness, rash, or discoloration.

Fertility Issues. Chemotherapy can impact fertility in both men and women. Discussing fertility preservation options before starting treatment is advisable.

It’s important to note that not all individuals will experience the same side effects, and the severity of side effects can vary. Healthcare professionals closely monitor patients during chemotherapy treatment to manage and minimize side effects. Medications, supportive care, and lifestyle modifications can often help alleviate discomfort and improve quality of life during treatment. Open communication with the healthcare team regarding any side effects is crucial to ensure appropriate support and adjustment of the treatment plan, if needed.