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20 November 2007

Chemotherapy Effective Against Cancer, But At What Cost?

On October 20th 2007, featured an article describing the threat of future heart disease affecting women who had undergone chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer ( Unfortunately, it is not just chemotherapy for breast cancer patients that is linked to both immediate and long term health issues for patients. Chemotherapy is often a very effective treatment for cancer but can generate a host of other problems over the course of treatment and beyond.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the immediate side effects experienced during chemotherapy include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, and pain. The government organization acknowledges that long term effects of chemotherapy can range from kidney and lung damage, infertility, and shockingly even a secondary cancer years after the initial treatment ( A research article published March 20, 2007 in the medical journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention entitled "Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Secondary to Cancer Chemotherapy" states that the aggressive chemotherapy credited with prolonging the lives of non-hodgkin lymphoma patients is directly linked to a number of those patients later developing acute myeloid leukemia ( Therefore, a powerful cycle of chemotherapy eradicates the original cancer, only to lead directly to the onset of a different kind of cancer several years later.

The same chemotherapy treatment referenced in the CNN article as a potential cause of heart disease is also known to cause secondary cancer. The American Cancer Society notes that Doxorubicin is so toxic that it will actually cause skin burns if it leaks from a vein during administration. Another chemotherapy drug, Cisplatin, can cause deafness and permanent kidney damage

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