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Chemotherapy Research Papers

Chemotherapy research papers are written for medical students, nurses and anyone enrolled in courses that study cancer. Paper Masters illustrates what should be included in a chemotherapy research papers in the information you see below.

Chemotherapy is defined as the use of drugs, often called “anticancer” drugs, to treat cancer.  The effectiveness of these drugs and which of the drugs are used depends on the type of cancer and the stage of development the cancer has reached within each patient.Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is an extremely beneficial treatment in the ongoing battle against cancer and is often used in conjunction with other treatments.  For example, in testicular cancer 70% of patients are cured by an initial chemotherapy treatment.  For patients that experience a recurrence of cancer following chemotherapy treatments, evidence shows that retreating with the chemotherapy regimen followed by a stem cell transplant is effective on over half of the remaining 30% .  Colon and rectal cancer are routinely treated using chemotherapy in conjunction with surgery.

Side Affects to Include in a Research Paper on Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is well known for the tremendous number of side effects that may result. In your research paper on chemotherapy, you should address the following side affects:

  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting

These side effects are caused from the inability of treatment drugs to target only cancer cells.  They also destroy and damage other cells growing in the body, which are necessary for many systems within the body to function normally.

Fatigue is the most common side effect reported by patients receiving chemotherapy treatments.  The quality of life of chemotherapy patients can be greatly affected by this serious response. Fatigue may last as long as several months. Such fatigue can be exacerbated by other cancer treatments, stress, and poor appetite, making it difficult for practitioners to be certain of the exact cause.

Another common side effect of chemotherapy is nausea and vomiting. These symptoms have been proven to occur in up to 60% of chemotherapy patients. Many new drugs are available for these symptoms, making them less severe and less common in recent years.

Pain is another side effect resulting from chemotherapy. The chemotherapy drugs often damage nerves and muscles, most commonly resulting in burning, tingling, or shooting pains in the fingers and toes as well as weak, tired and sore muscles. Other effects can include mouth sores, headaches, pains in the stomach, and muscle pains. The evolution of pain medications has significantly lessened the occurrence of painful side effects.

Hair loss, or alopecia, is one of the most widely known side effects of chemotherapy.  It can vary from a thinning of the hair to a complete loss of hair.  All parts of the body may be subject to hair loss.  Following the treatments, the hair usually grows back, though sometimes as a different color or texture.  Skin and nail changes can also be found, including peeling, dryness, discoloration, and cracking.

Other side effects of chemotherapy include central nervous system problems such as confusion, depression, and tiredness; infections resulting from low white blood cell counts; blood clotting problems caused by a decrease in platelets, which include bruising, red spots under the skin, and blood within the urine or feces; sores in the mouth and throat.  The digestive system may also be affected, resulting in diarrhea or constipation.  The kidney and bladder sometimes become irritated.  Fluid retention can result from the cancer, the chemotherapy drugs, or hormonal changes that result from the treatment.  Sexual organs may also be affected, resulting in low sperm counts or infertility in men.  In women, changes in hormonal levels may result in irregularities of the menstrual cycle and menopause

Anemia and Chemotherapy

Anemia is another side effect of chemotherapy, resulting from a reduction in the bone marrow’s ability to make red blood cells during the treatment.  The shortage of red blood cells results in a shortage in the oxygen necessary for the tissues of the body to do their work. Symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations can result.  In severe cases of anemia, blood transfusions are necessary.  Medications can be used to reduce the anemia and its effects in milder cases, and the red blood cell count in patients is monitored carefully during chemotherapy.  Many factors may lead to anemia in cancer patients, so an individualized treatment plan must be devised for each case.

Another common side effect of chemotherapy is nausea and vomiting.  These symptoms have been proven to occur in up to 60% of chemotherapy patients .  Many new drugs are available for these symptoms, making them less severe and less common in recent years.

Thus, chemotherapy side effects can be found in virtually any system in the body.  Though unpleasant to experience, most all chemotherapy side effects subside following the end of treatment, and must be weighed against the threat caused by the cancer.

Nurses play a significant role in assisting patients though the process of chemotherapy.  Patients have a tendency not to report problems of fatigue to their doctor, to avoid sounding like complainers.  Nurses must take the lead in assessing the presence of fatigue.  If anemia is ruled out as the cause, nurses may recommend mild to very moderate exercise to the patient as well as a nutritionist prepared healthy diet.  Nurses may also devise pain management strategies for patients.

The assessment of vomiting and nausea risk is an important role for nurses treating chemotherapy patents.  The agent used for the treatment, the age of the patient, and any history of motion sickness are important factors for this assessment. The most effective management method is preventive care, an area that is generally attended to by nurses. Recommendations such as eliminating sun exposure, keeping fingernails short, and wearing cotton clothing may be helpful advice for patients with side effects of dryness, peeling, cracking, and discoloration of the skin.

Perhaps the most critical role a nurse can play in the treatment of chemotherapy patients is assurance and hope.  According to Jeanne Held-Warmkessel (1998), RN, AOCN, CS, MSN, an instructor at the Roxborough Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Philadelphia:

Your role in caring for a patient with colon cancer may include preparing her for surgery, administering chemotherapy, or explaining what she needs to know about advance directives.  Regardless of the circumstances, and importance facet of your work is instilling hope; by assuring your patient that her cancer can be managed and the symptoms controlled, you can help her extend her survival and maintain an acceptable quality of life.

Often, a nurse spends more time one-on-one with the patient than the doctor is able to, solidifying the importance of this role.

Chemotherapy administrator is another role nurses often play in treating cancer patients.  Use of safety guidelines in the handling of the chemotherapy drugs is important for health care workers as the drugs contain toxins that can harm a healthy person who is exposed to them.  Studies of nurses exposures to these drugs have shown that damage to the reproductive system and liver damage can result from exposure.  Skin contact with the anticancer drugs has proven to result in acute symptoms such as dizziness, hair loss, shortness of breath, headache, and nausea.

In conclusion, regardless of the drug or drugs used, the goals of chemotherapy are as follows: to eliminate cancer in the patient, to stop the spread of cancer in the patient, to inhibit the growth of cancer in the patient, to destroy cancer cells that have traveled to other parts of the patient’s body from the original tumor site, and to relieve the symptoms the patient experiences as a result of the cancer’s presence in their body.  The effectiveness chemotherapy boasts at achieving these goals, whether alone or in combination with other treatments, is a strong rationale for utilizing this form of treatment in spite of the side effects it may present.

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