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Chemotherapy has been a necessary evil since the 1940’s when it was first put into wide use. Usually delivered to an ailing patient intravenously, chemotherapy is basically a poison that is just strong enough to kill cells that are multiplying and leave the patient alive. It has been effective in treating many types of cancer, and there are some who have had their lives saved by this drastic procedure.
Most every time it is used, chemotherapy comes with side effects. The most common is a depression of the immune system, thus the possibility of dangerous, even deadly, infection or sepsis. Nausea is very common, and often dissuades patients from eating, further reducing their reserves of strength to fight the disease. Constipation or diarrhea are common. Then there is the possibility of hair-loss, Cardiotoxicity, Hepatotoxicity, Nephrotoxicity, Ototoxicity, or a second cancer springing up where healthy tissue was damaged by the treatment.
But now, at least for those with illness in the lungs, there is a way to target chemotherapy to get a higher yield and fewer side effects.
Osteosarcoma is a type of cancer that begins in the bones, and is fatal in about 90% of cases where the disease spreads to the lungs. Traditionally the most effective treatment has been chemotherapy, however the fact that this type of cancer affects mostly children makes the this a particularly difficult malaise with which to deal.
Now there are experimental treatments being used in Osteosarcoma patients where the chemo is being delivered via breathing. The patient is placed in a small tent, the medicine is nebulized, and then breathed in, delivering the chemo directly to the lungs. Less of the chemo gets into the bloodstream, thus most of the side effects are drastically reduced if not outright averted. And the tumor formation in the lungs is still halted effectively.
As of yet, the new treatment is still experimental, and not approved for sole use— a reduced treatment of conventional chemotherapy is still called for. However, it a promising step in the treatment of cancer: to aim at the illness, and not at the person.
Suggested by Estela