Chemotherapy for rectal cancer without the use of surgical procedures does not allow the doctors to cure the disease complete, but it inhibits the tumor growth, reduces its size, reduces the risk of recurrence after surgery. Chemotherapy is more effective than radiation therapy in rectal cancer treatment. Therefore, if only one of these methods can be used, the doctors prefer chemotherapy. However, these techniques can often be used simultaneously to increase the effectiveness of the rectal cancer treatment.
In what cases can chemotherapy be applied?
Chemotherapy can be used at most stages of this cancer:
Stage 1. If during the operation it turned out that the tumor spread further than it seemed at the stage of the patient’s medical examination. In this case, chemotherapy can be prescribed after surgical treatment.
Stage 2. In most cases, chemotherapy can be applied after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence, but sometimes it can be carried out prior to surgical treatment of rectal cancer as well. It aims to reduce the tumor size and to facilitate the process of its removal.
Stage 3. Chemotherapy can very often be used prior to surgery in order to reduce the tumor size and to increase the chances of its total removal.
Stage 4. Chemotherapy can be used before and after surgery. If radical surgery is contraindicated, it becomes one of the main methods of cancer treatment, in combination with irradiation.
What is the procedure of chemotherapy?
In most cases, the doctors carry out systemic chemotherapy, while the regional one is less common.
The systemic treatment involves the injection of drugs intravenously or their administration in pill form. Anyway, the active substance must enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. With blood flow, it can reach malignant cells.
The regional chemotherapy is less commonly applied. It is mainly applied in significant tumor process spread. The advantage of this approach is the possibility of creating a very high concentration of chemotherapy in a limited area of the body, exactly where the focus of tumor tissue is located, which requires a therapeutic effect. The main types of regional chemotherapy, which can be used to treat rectal cancer include:
- intraperitoneal chemotherapy – if the tumor spreads to the abdominal cavity;
- hepatic arterial chemoembolization – in the development of non-static foci in the liver (the procedure not only delivers a large number of drugs to the tumor, but also blocks its blood supply).
The systemic chemotherapy is carried out in cycles, with duration from 2 to 4 weeks. Two or more drugs can be used simultaneously. The choice of the scheme is determined by the histological type of the tumor and the response to the treatment. The therapy usually lasts 6 months.
Depending on the treatment stage, chemotherapy pursues different goals. The main ones are:
- Reduction of the tumor size before its removal. Some neoplasms are too large to be totally removed, but the chemotherapy course and irradiation before the operation can solve this problem. Since the tumor is getting smaller, it is easier for the doctor to totally remove it. The operation becomes less traumatic, risky, and therefore more sparing and safe for the patient.
- Reduction of recurrence risk after surgery. A small number of cancer cells may remain in the body after removal of the neoplasm. They can be destroyed by means of chemotherapy. The application of this treatment technique reduces the risk of recurrence.
- Inhibition of tumor growth and reduction of symptoms. Chemotherapy is used when radical treatment cannot be performed due to the high spread of the oncological process or the poor state of somatic health of the patient. In this case, the patient is prescribed drugs to control the tumor growth. If the scheme stops working, drugs with a different mechanism of action will be used. They will yield positive results.
The benefit of chemotherapy is that drugs administered intravenously or orally enter the general circulation. They affect cancer cells, wherever they are, and therefore chemotherapy can provide good treatment results even in the presence of distant metastases.
Nonetheless, this treatment has the other side too. Any course of chemotherapy is poorly tolerated by the patient. It is accompanied by side effects and can cause complications. The main ones are:
- hair loss;
- weak regenerative processes;
When using some drugs, hands and feet may become red, numbness and tingling in the skin occur due to the nerve damage. However, most side effects are reversible and some of them can be compensated with other medicines.
Diagnostics and treatment abroad with the Booking Health company
You can undergo an effective and safe rectal cancer treatment abroad. The Booking Health company will organize your trip to another country. We provide the following benefits:
- Selection of the best hospital, which achieves the best results in the diagnostics and treatment of rectal cancer, according to medical statistics.
- Reduced treatment costs due to the lack of overpricing and additional coefficients for foreign patients.
- Booking the appointment with a doctor on the most suitable dates.
- Preparation of the program based on the results of cancer diagnostics.
- Establishment of communication directly with your attending physician.
- Monitoring of the medical program at all its stages.
- Control of invoices, return of unspent funds.
- Buying and forwarding of medicines for rectal cancer treatment.
- Organization of additional cancer diagnostics or treatment procedures.
- Communication with the hospital upon treatment completion.
The Booking Health company will provide top-class services for you. We will book a hotel for you, buy airline tickets, arrange a transfer from the airport to the hospital and back.