The treatment of cancer may include the use of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy, surgery or some combination of all of these therapeutic options. All of these treatment options are directed at killing or eradicating the cancer that exists in the patient’s body. Unfortunately, the delivery of cancer therapy, including chemotherapy, often affects the body’s normal organs and tissues not affected by cancer. The undesired consequence of damaging healthy cells is a complication of treatment, or a side effect.
Why do side effects occur?
Unfortunately, most chemotherapy drugs cannot tell the difference between a cancer cell and a healthy cell. Therefore, chemotherapy often affects the body’s normal tissues and organs which results in complication of treatments, or side effects.
Side effects cause inconvenience, discomfort, and may occasionally be fatal. Additionally and perhaps more importantly, side effects may prevent doctors from delivering the prescribed dose of therapy at the specific time and schedule of the treatment plan. Because the expected outcome from therapy is based on delivering treatment at the dose and schedule prescribed in the treatment plan, a change from the treatment plan may reduce your chance of achieving an optimal outcome. This is extremely important to understand. In other words, side effects not only cause discomfort and unpleasantness, but may also compromise your chance of cure by preventing the delivery of therapy at its optimal dose and time.