A lot of people have heard about chemotherapy, but how does it actually work? In order to be able to understand how does chemotherapy work, we have to talk about the life cycle of the cells that can be lost as an effect of injury or of normal reasons. This is also known as cell cycle and it applies both to healthy cells and to cancerous cells.
When talking about the way that chemotherapy works you should know that there are 5 phases that the cells go through. The reproduction is repeated many times and in the end all of the steps lead back to the starting point.
The interesting thing is that in case a cell reproduces, the two new cells will be identical. These new cells can go through reproduction again in case there is need for new cells.
When thinking about the way that chemotherapy works keep in mind that there is the first stage that is the resting stage. In this phase there is no division of the cell yet.
The cells spend the majority of their life in this stage that can last between a few hours and several years. In case there is a sign for the cell to reproduce, the second phase starts.
This phase is also important regarding the way that chemotherapy works because the cells will become larger because they start producing proteins, making it possible for the new cells to have a normal size.
Regarding how does chemotherapy work the third stage is also important because this is the one when the chromosomes containing the DNA or the genetic information get duplicated so that the two new cells will have the same DNA. This happens in 18-20 hours.
In the next stage the DNA is checked and the cells get ready to duplicate. The last phase is the shortest, of 30-60 minutes, called mitosis and now the cell actually splits into two distinct cells.
How does chemotherapy work?
All this is important to know regarding the way that chemotherapy works because the majority of the drugs used during the treatment have an effect only on those cells that are actually reproducing, and not on those that are in the first phase.
There are also some drugs that act only on the cells found in a certain phase. It is very important for the doctors to understand the working way of chemotherapy because this way they can tell which ones of the drugs will work the best when combined together.
What is important to know about how does chemotherapy work is that when the drugs used attack the cells found in the reproductive stage, they can’t tell the difference between the healthy cells and the cancerous ones. The side effects of the treatment are caused by the damage caused to the healthy cells. Every time that the patient is treated through chemotherapy there is a need to find a balance between the damage to the cancerous cells and keeping safe the healthy cells.
It is true that there are complex chemical reactions responsible for how does chemotherapy work, but an ideal treatment that would be able to attack only cancerous cells is still a dream for most of the cancer patients going through chemotherapy.