What is chemotherapy?
Many people are afraid of the word “chemotherapy”. But at the moment, it is one of the most effective methods of treatment for oncology. In some types of oncology – this is the only type of treatment. With the development of medicine comes better and better new drugs with less side effects.
Below, we will try to provide as much useful information as possible to navigate the difficulty of chemotherapy and provide reliable treatment options in Korea.
How does chemotherapy take place in South Korea?
- After reading the results of the examinations and the history of the disease, the professor prescribes a protocol (number of sessions, dosage) and medication for “by-effects”.
- Before the start of chemotherapy, doctors have to consulted with the pharmacist in charge and with the in-house nutritionist.
- Sessions are as follow: Inside the outpatient department: on the same day after all the consultations. Inside the inpatient department: hospitalization may be on the same day or take some time as the wards are vacated.
- Schedule: Usually every 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the protocol. On the day of admission it is necessary to pass a blood test 2 hours before the session. According to the results of tests the professor prescribes chemotherapy.
- After half and/or at the end of all chemotherapy sessions, control examinations are prescribed to check the effectiveness of the drugs.
Each diagnosis uses different treatment protocols, methods of administration, dosage, number of courses. For more information it is necessary to undergo a consultation with a specialist and take the necessary examinations.
“The side effect” chemotherapy – Advice of our patients to fight it
Side effects can vary, depending on the drugs. Below are the most common ones.
Before the beginning of chemotherapy, the pharmacist will detail the features of each prescribed drug and side effects from it. The professor can prescribe all necessary medications for side effects.
- Infection, bleeding, anemia
Falling rates of white blood cells, platelets, haemoglobin, etc. can lead to this side-effect. Usually 7-10 days after chemotherapy these conditions reach its peak, then there is a sense of recovery.
Our patients’ advice: do not go to crowded places, always wear a mask on the street. After chemotherapy, the next day, I received an injection to fight the drop in leukocytes (optional), this helped me to take the flight to Almaty and then back to Seoul.
- Nausea and vomiting
Doctors can additionally prescribe antiemetic in tablets and/or in the form of a band-aid.
Advice from our patients: I gave my son salty cheese, he kept it in his mouth and slowly swallowed it. It helped him control the nausea sensation. Some people give a pinch of salt, a piece of ice or peppermint.
Advice from our patients: I could not go to the toilet for 3 days. Prune juice, which I bought at the nearest pharmacy, helped me a lot.
I also have an anal fissure, with constipation. I was constantly feeling pain. Taking warm baths helped me a lot.
- Alopecia et al.
Hair loss usually begins at 2-3 weeks after chemotherapy, depending on the drugs and features of the body. Hair will begin to grow at the end of chemotherapy in 1-2 months.
Advice from our patients: I bought good cotton caps in a shop at the hospital, soft and light, very comfortable.
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FAQ about chemotherapy in South Korea
– Experienced medical staff (professors and nurses with internship/residence in the USA, Europe, Japan).
– Quality of drugs, manufactured in Korea or imported from USA and Europe.
– Well-coordinated work between medical departments (oncology & others). It makes it possible to create a 360 degree approach to timely solve complex cases.
– Outpatient treatment (if the patient’s condition and protocol allows it).
– Personalized selection of drugs and dosage according to age, physical condition, medical history, presence of chronic diseases and more.
If your condition and the protocol allows it, you can fly home between sessions. When chemotherapy is administrated every 3 weeks, the majority of our clients fly home. For children it is advisable to stay in Korea.
The goal of chemotherapy is to kill all the cancer cells to prevent recurrence. Some of them are so small they cannot be treated otherwise. Before prescribing chemotherapy, the doctor should weight the pros and cons for each patient.
If you have weak, thin veins, it is recommendable to have a CVC placed. Finding a “good vein” can become harder every session, thus painful. For children, doctors recommend the CVC in most cases.
The cost depends on the type of disease, the chemotherapy drugs and dosage. It varies from $500 USD to $4,000 USD per course.
DOS: good and balanced nutrition (home made food, fully cooked). Moderate exercise (walking). Good sleep and a positive attitude.
DONTS: raw fish or meat, dietary supplements and “grandma remedies” or oriental medicine. For no reason you should take additional medicines without your doctor’s advice. Avoid exposure to the sun. Smoking, drinking, out of the question.
The type of radiotherapy, the number of sessions, the cost will depend on the diagnosis, the results of examinations, the condition of patients and other factors. Please understand that this information is just for researching purposes and it is not intended as medical advice. Before taking any decision consult with your doctor.