How do Doctors Decide Which Chemotherapy Drugs to Give?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Aug 08, 2012

As the success of various chemotherapy drugs and protocols vary, choosing the correct one for ensuring that the patients benefits the most is very important. Doctors usually consider the response rate of a particular type and stage of cancer to the various chemotherapy drugs. Doctors decide about which chemotherapy drugs to give based on what they how the tumours have been found to shrink or disappear after the use of different drugs.

Establishing chemo drugs’ response rate

Response rates of various chemotherapy drugs are established after research. If a certain type of cancer in a certain stage has been found to respond well to certain combination of drugs in 70 per cent of cases, this would be its response rate. It means that there is a 70 per cent chance going by precedence that such a combination of drugs would help in shrinking or disappearance of tumour.

Another important consideration in the example given above is that 30 per cent of people are not likely to respond to such combination of drugs and they need to be put under a different treatment regimen. Responses to treatment can be partial as well as complete. These are based on the type of cancer and the specific protocol of treatment procedure that need to be followed.

Response duration of chemotherapy drugs

Another factor to consider in arriving at the right combination of drugs for chemotherapy treatment is the response duration. In other words, the length of time for which the effect of the drugs last. Research undertaken in this regard has brought about an exhaustive documentation of these protocols. When doctors set about choosing the combination of drugs, they give due importance to response rate as well as response duration of the chemotherapy drugs.

Side effects of chemotherapy drugs

An important factor to consider when deciding which chemotherapy drugs to use is the accompanied side effects of the procedures and treatment protocols. Side effects depend on the type of drugs administered, frequency of treatment procedures, and some factors that are specific to the individual taking treatment.

It helps a doctor decide about which chemotherapy drug to use if he takes into consideration the history of patient’s medical condition as well as his general health. It is important that the patient discusses these issues with the doctor about the side effects before getting the treatment.

Apart from the response rate and response duration, it is as important that the doctors give due consideration to minimising the side effects of the treatment. This is because the patients need to undergo treatment for side effects too. As there is always some side effect or the other after a chemotherapy treatment, the patients should consider this aspect of their treatment to be as crucial.



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