Is the treatment working?
You might wonder whether experiencing side effects is a sign that the chemotherapy is working. However, having side effects usually does not indicate how successful the chemotherapy is going to be.
Throughout treatment, you will be closely monitored by your specialist. You will have tests to see how well the chemotherapy drugs are working and whether the cancer has shrunk or disappeared after chemotherapy. This is called the treatment response and it helps your doctor decide whether to continue or change the chemotherapy plan.
If tests show that the cancer has shrunk and is unable to be detected, this may be called remission or complete response, which means there is no evidence of active cancer. Depending on the guidelines for the type of cancer you have, this may mean chemotherapy can stop or it may continue for a period of time.
Once you’ve completed the course of chemotherapy, your doctor will monitor you for several months or years. This is because cancer can sometimes come back in the same place or grow in another part of the body.
Clinical A/Prof Rosemary Harrup, Director, Cancer and Blood Services, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Katie Benton, Advanced Dietitian, Cancer Care, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Queensland Health, QLD; Gillian Blanchard, Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Stacey Burton, Consumer; Dr Fiona Day, Staff Specialist, Medical Oncology, Calvary Mater Newcastle, and Conjoint Senior Lecturer, The University of Newcastle, NSW; Andrew Greig, Consumer; Steve Higgs, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Prof Desmond Yip, Clinical Director, Department of Medical Oncology, The Canberra Hospital, ACT.
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