Chemotherapy Cancer Treatment Protocols
Normally, cells live, grow and die in a predictable way. Cancer occurs when certain cells in the body keep dividing and forming more cells without the ability to stop this process. Chemotherapy protocols involve destroying cancer cells by keeping the cells from further multiplying. Unfortunately, in the process of undergoing chemotherapy protocols, healthy cells can also be affected, especially those that naturally should divide quickly.
Chemotherapy protocols strive to maximize the elimination of cancer cells while minimizing the negative effects that these protocols have on healthy cells. Much progress in developing successful chemotherapy protocols has been made, including the identification of many different types of cancer and the corresponding development of effective chemotherapy protocol solutions. But there is still much work to be done.
Chemotherapy encompasses a wide variety of therapy treatments. Terms such as “adjuvant,” “neoadjuvant,” “consolidation,” and “palliative” often add to the confusion surrounding chemotherapy if not properly defined and explained. The purpose of this page is to increase the level of understanding about various chemotherapy protocols currently used.
Adjuvant Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy given to destroy left-over (microscopic) cells that may be present after the known tumor is removed by surgery. Adjuvant chemotherapy is given to prevent a possible cancer reccurrence.
Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy given prior to the surgical procedure. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy may be given to attempt to shrink the cancer so that the surgical procedure may not need to be as extensive.
Induction Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy given to induce a remission. This term is commonly used in the treatment of acute leukemias.
Consolidation Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy given once a remission is achieved. The goal of this therapy is to sustain a remission. Consolidation chemotherapy may also be called intensification therapy. This term is commonly used in the treatment of acute leukemias.
Maintenance Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy given in lower doses to assist in prolonging a remission. Maintenance chemotherapy is used only for certain types of cancer, most commonly acute lymphocytic leukemias and acute promyelocytic leukemias.
First Line Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy that has, through research studies and clinical trials, been determined to have the best probability of treating a given cancer. This may also be called standard therapy.
Second Line Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy that is given if a disease has not responded or reoccurred after first line chemotherapy. Second line chemotherapy has, through research studies and clinical trials, been determined to be effective in treating a given cancer that has not responded or reoccurred after standard chemotherapy. In some cases, this may also be referred to as salvage therapy.
Palliative Chemotherapy – Palliative is a type of chemotherapy that is given specifically to address symptom management without expecting to significantly reduce the cancer.