Chemotherapy

chemotherapy (kē´mōthĕr´əpē), treatment of disease with chemicals or drugs. One chemotherapeutic approach is the development of selectively toxic substances, i.e., substances that can destroy or inhibit infecting organisms or, as in cancer, malignant tissue, but do not damage normal host tissue. In treating infection, selectively toxic agents may block a biochemical reaction necessary to the viability of the pathogen but not to that of the host; for example, penicillin blocks synthesis of bacterial cell walls, a component animal cells lack. Other chemotherapeutic substances differentially affect biochemical reactions in different tissues; thus antimetabolites such as methotrexate and Cytoxan are more toxic to rapidly proliferating cells such as those associated with cancer than to normal cells. Other drugs act in various ways to produce effects that initiate or enhance some normal body function; for instance, neostigmine blocks the action of an enzyme limiting transmission of nerve impulses and thereby acts as a nervous system stimulant. The usefulness of chemotherapeutic agents also depends on their pharmacological action, e.g., their rate of absorption, rapidity of action and rate of excretion, degree of storage in the body, effects of products of their metabolic breakdown, and potential for causing hypersensitivity reactions. Some drugs are given prophylactically, to prevent infection, e.g., penicillin is given to rheumatic fever patients to prevent reinfection by the causative organism, the streptococcal bacterium.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Confronting Cancer: How to Care for Today and Tomorrow
Michael M. Sherry.
Insight Books, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 14 "Chemotherapy and Hormonal Therapy"
Childhood Cancer: A Handbook from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital with Contributions from St. Jude Clinicians and Scientists
R. Grant Steen; Joseph Mirro.
Perseus Publishing, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 15 "Chemotherapy"
Breast Cancer? Let Me Check My Schedule
Peggy McCarthy; Jo An Loren.
Westview Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of chemotherapy begins on p. 52
Prostate Cancer: Portraits of Empowerment
Nadine Jelsing.
Westview Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of chemotherapy begins on p. 199
The Child with Cancer: Family-Centred Care in Practice
Helen Langton; Anne Casey.
Balliere Tindall, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of chemotherapy begins on p. 91
Group Therapy for Cancer Patients: A Research-Based Handbook of Psychosocial Care
David Spiegel; Catherine Classen.
Basic Books, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of chemotherapy begins on p. 17
Getting Doctors to Listen: Ethics and Outcomes Data in Context
Philip J. Boyle.
Georgetown University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "'Rescue' Technologies following High-Dose Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer: How Social Context Shapes the Assessment of Innovative, Aggressive, and Lifesaving Medical Technologies" begins on p. 126
Sexuality, Body Image and Quality of Life after High Dose or Conventional Chemotherapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer
Makar, Kami; Cumming, Ceinwen E.; Lees, Alan W.; Hundleby, Marilyn; Nabholtz, Jean-Marc; Kieren, Dianne K.; Jenkins, Heather; Wentzel, Carolyn; Handman, Michael; Cumming, David C.
The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 1997
Processing of Medical Information in Aging Patients: Cognitive and Human Factors Perspectives
Denise C. Park; Roger W. Morrell; Kim Shifren.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Medical and Psychosocial Predictors of Breast Cancer Treatment Decisions"
Current Legal Intervention regarding "Experimental" Treatments Must Be Changed: An Analysis of High Doses of Chemotherapy with Autologous Bone Marrow Transplantation for Breast Cancer Patients
Smayda, Emily.
Journal of Law and Health, Vol. 13, No. 2, Summer 1998
Understanding Breast Cancer
Joy Ogden.
Wiley, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 11 "Chemotherapy"
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