Chemotherapy : a handbook for cancer patients

The purpose of this booklet is to provide a concise, clear vehicle to enlighten and educate the cancer patient who will receive chemotherapy. Many myths circulate about chemotherapy. Some have no basis and others have a thread of factual information that has been exaggerated. Neither one will help the cancer patient or his family to understand and cope with the real side effects of chemotherapy that may occur. From listening to people to talk about what can happen as a result of taking chemotherapy, I feel there is a great need for more information to be made available to the person who has been offered chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer. This booklet focuses on chemotherapy, what it is, how it works, why it is used, different types of chemotherapy, names of drugs, various side effects and methods to control or avoid them. Some history is included to demonstrate that chemotherapy is not a new or experimental method for treating disease. The discussion of the etiology of cancer is brief. My intent is to give an overview for the patient’s knowledge that cancer is not new to civilization. Many people have the idea that cancer is a discovery of the late 20th century. By giving a brief historical perspective and a brief description of the basic types of cancer, including common characteristics of all cancers, I hope to dispel some of these myths. The main objective is to emphasize that each patient is an individual and needs individualized care. Hopefully patients will be encouraged to ask questions about their specific disease and the treatment available for it. By doing this they begin to actively participate in their treatment plan. A well informed patient is a less anxious patient and will be more optimistic about his treatment. Some of the depression associated with cancer may be relieved by having information about what is happening and why. By removing one of the unknown factors, the patient becomes less fearful and will be better able to cope with the future.