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Chemotherapy is the use of specialized drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs may be in pill or capsule form, or they may be injected into a vein or muscle.
Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because when the drug enters the bloodstream, it travels throughout the body and can kill cancer cells outside the stomach. Chemotherapy drugs act either by destroying tumor cells or by preventing them from multiplying.
When chemotherapy is used to treat stomach cancer, the drugs are usually prescribed in groups of three or four. Groups of drugs are often referred to by an abbreviation often including the first letter of each drug. The drug regimen is called a protocol.
What Are The Side Effects Of Chemotherapy?
A major problem with chemotherapy used to treat any cancer is that the drugs may act on healthy dividing cells in addition to tumor cells.
As a result, chemotherapy can affect:
- The lining of the intestines
- The hair follicles (the reason why some people lose their hair during treatment)
- The mouth, sometimes causing mouth or tongue sores
Possible side effects of chemotherapy depend on which drugs are used. Side effects vary widely from person to person. Side effects of stomach cancer chemotherapy can include:
- Bruising or bleeding easily
- Lethargy, weakness, or exhaustion
- Loss of appetite, or anorexia
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
Medications are available to help with side effects, especially with nausea and vomiting. Side effects from chemotherapy gradually decrease or disappear between treatments and after treatment is finished.