Chemotherapy, in its most general sense, refers to treatment of disease by chemicals that kill cells, both good and bad; but specifically those of micro organisms or cancerous tumours. Therefore In popular usage; it refers to antineoplastic drugs use to treat cancer or the combination of these drugs into a cytotoxic standardized treatment regimen. Because In its non-oncological use; the term may also refer to antibiotics (antibacterial chemotherapy).

Antineoplastic drugs used to treat

In that sense, the first modern chemotherapeutic agent is Paul Ehrlich’s arsphenamine, an arsenic compound discover in 1909 and use to treat syphilis. This is later follow by sulfonamides discover by Domagk and penicillin discover by Alexander Fleming. chemotherapy is as effective at controlling disease for elderly or frail patients with advance cancer of the stomach or oesophagus (food pipe); and leads to fewer side effects such as diarrhoea and lethargy.

These are the results of a Cancer Research UK find study; present prior to the ASCO conference today. care for patients who can’t have full dose chemotherapy due to their age; frailty or medical fitness. The study, which ran at hospitals all over the UK, coordinated from the University of Leeds; involved 514 people with stomach or oesophageal cancer.

Stomach or oesophageal cancer

Their average age was 76 and the oldest is 96 years old. All were either frail; elderly or medically unfit, and for those reasons would be unlikely to tolerate full-strength treatment; which involves three chemotherapy drugs. Patients went through a careful medical assessment; then went onto chemotherapy with just two drugs and are allocate at random to receive them at either full-strength; medium-dose or low-dose.

They are then carefully monitor to see how well the cancer is  control, whether they had symptoms and side-effects, whether they felt their treatment is  worthwhile; and what overall effect it had on their quality of life. The researchers report that the medium and lower doses of chemotherapy are as effective as the full-strength dose for controlling the cancer.

Intervention such as surgery

But when the researchers look at the overall effect of treatment, including quality of life, they reported that it was the lowest dose treatment that came out best. In medicine, an adverse effect is a harmful and undesire effect resulting from a medication or other intervention such as surgery.

An adverse effect may be termed a “says  effect”, when judged to be secondary to a main or therapeutic effect, and may result from an unsuitable or incorrect dosage or procedure, which is due to medical error. Adverse effects are sometimes referr to as “iatrogenic” because they are generate by a physician/treatment.