Bone cancer can be of two types: bone sarcomas and multiple myeloma. Bone cancer treatment starts with certain chemotherapies and radiation therapies, in which cancer cells are destroyed and in the process even healthy cells can get damaged which causes side effects. The side effects of bone cancer treatment depend on the method of treatment, the age of the patient and location of the tumour. Some of the side effects are permanent and some side effects are temporary. Three types of treatments which are used for bone cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy: A good number of researches have concluded that high dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant have been very effective in the treatment of multiple myeloma. Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, of the American Cancer Society, concurs with the research results and adds that chemotherapy raises the survival by at least one year. Furthermore, Delhi-based Dr. Vipul Sud from the Core Cancer Foundation believes the theory has been tested through many years and confirms that “aggressive chemotherapy is more effective compared to other treatments in bone cancer.”
Every patient reacts differently to chemotherapy as the cells in the bloodstream undergo chemical reactions which are initiated specifically to kill infected cells. A specific number of cycles of chemotherapy are used to execute the treatment.
The short term side effects of bone cancer treatment using chemotherapy are:
- a restricted growth of blood forming cells.
- anaemia, fever and sterility.
- a reduction in the resistance to infection.
- It affects the appetite and causes vomiting, nausea and mouth sores.
- Low energy and poor stamina.
- The long term side effect of chemotherapy is that the man or the woman may lose fertility. After undergoing the therapy, the patient may have difficulty in producing children.
Radiation therapy: In radiation therapy, high energy radiations are used to kill cancer cells as well as the DNA of the cells which can cause the tumour. Sometimes, radiation therapy also kills normal cells. The other side effects of bone cancer treatment using radiation therapy include:
- Patient may suffer from fatigue and tiredness all the time.
- Skin reaction may happen, and the patient may suffer from dryness or redness The skin should be protected against direct sun but one should not apply any chemicals or cream on the skin without consulting a doctor.
- To prevent dental infection, the patient’s teeth should be examined by a doctor regularly during therapy.
- Loss of appetite is a common side effect of bone cancer treatments.
There are many risks and side effects associated with the various therapies adopted for the treatment of bone cancer. In radiation therapy it has been found that the risk of reoccurrence of the condition in the same area is very high, but most physicians can tell during the treatment about the chances of recurrence. The main risk of bone cancer therapies are infections and injury to the tissues. After surgery of bone cancer, rehabilitation is very important for the patient to recover.
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