What is Regional Chemotherapy?
Regional chemotherapy (RCT) is a type of cancer treatment that aims to target and destroy cancer cells in a specific area. Regional chemotherapy makes it possible to treat tumour-exposed areas with concentrated doses of cytotoxic drugs. RCT can sometimes be known as chemotherapy into a limb as the drugs are administered directly to the area of the tumour.
The basis for the treatment is a reduction of generally extensive tumours with the help of highly concentrated dose of regional chemotherapy (RCT). The side effects in patients can be significantly reduced, and often completely eliminated, making it an option for many patients.
Regional chemotherapy is frequently used in conjunction with surgery. Once a tumour has been reduced by regional therapy, the tumour, as well as any regional metastases, will be removed using this method.
Although it has been around since the 1950s, regional chemotherapy has been regarded as an alternative cancer treatment method with more traditional forms of chemotherapy tending to be common.
Differences Between Regional Chemotherapy and Systemic Chemotherapy
Systemic chemotherapy is a traditional form of chemotherapy whereby drugs are given intravenously or orally and travel around the body. Various types of drugs may be used however they all have the same aim: to stop cancer cells from reproducing or getting any bigger. Regional chemotherapy works in a similar way however drugs are directed to a specific region in the body rather than travelling throughout the body.
How Does Regional Chemotherapy Work?
Regional chemotherapy is usually given intravenously for the chemotherapy drugs to target a specific area, usually the site of the cancerous cells. Unlike systemic chemotherapy, regional chemotherapy can provide a more concentrated dose of the drugs to the targeted area, making it highly effective in treating cancerous cells. RCT comes with immediate detoxification of chemotherapy by simultaneous chemofiltration which aims to get rid of any toxic medications in the body.
What Are the Benefits of Regional Chemotherapy?
Unlike traditional chemotherapy, drugs are targeted to a specific area which means that there is minimal impact to otherwise healthy areas of the body. By using RCT in combination with blood chemofiltration, side effects can be significantly reduced while patients can have a better chance of survival making it an effective treatment choice for many.
In addition to this, patients can feel more at ease and worry less about there being damage to healthy cells in the body with this type of treatment.
OncoloMed have a wide network of doctors with specialists in different forms of cancer treatment. Through our network, we can facilitate regional chemotherapy with one of the pioneers of RCT and an expert in this treatment, Prof. Dr. Karl R. Aigner. He has previously spoken about the effectiveness of the treatment and its ability to give patients a better quality of life. Unlike traditional chemotherapy where patients may experience side effects such as nausea and vomiting, the likelihood of these side effects are minimised with RCT.
RCT Patient Stories
There have been many success stories in regards to patients receiving RCT, one such example is a patient who accessed the treatment through OncoloMed. In an open letter to Professor Aigner, one patient received the all clear after undergoing this form of cancer treatment.
What Types of Cancer is Regional Chemotherapy Used to Treat?
Regional chemotherapy has been found to be effective in treating types of cancers including cancer of the limb (in the arm or leg), lymphomas, sarcomas, melanoma, liver cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer to name but a few. It is often used when cancer has returned to an area.
Although it is effective in a broad range of cases, it may not be a suitable treatment choice for every patient and, for it to work, regional application of the drugs must be possible. It is highly recommended that you discuss your options with your care team to find out whether regional chemotherapy is a good option for you.
Alternatively, you may want to consider getting a second opinion whereby you can get more information and consider your options further.
What Happens After Treatment
After the treatment, you will be monitored closely in hospital to ensure you do not have any complications. In some cases, blood clots can occur however these should be spotted early. Tell-tale signs of blood clots include pain, swelling of the limb and chest pain.
Your care team will follow up with you post-treatment, usually after about 6 weeks. More check-ups may be necessary after your initial follow up appointment where your care team will assess the impact of the treatment. Tumours can take some time to reduce, and the purpose of these appointments will be to see the progress you are making.
Potential Side Effects from Regional Chemotherapy
Side effects are lower compared to other cancer treatments however there are some potential risks and side effects that you should be aware of:
- Damage to the blood vessels
- Blood clots
- Pain and stiffness around the affected area
- Skin irritation or changes such as swelling and redness
- Infection risk
- Hair loss
- Numbness or tingling
- Changes to nails
If you experience any side effects, it’s important to talk to your care team so they can help you manage them properly. Especially with side effects such as blood clots that can be serious, it’s vital to get these checked out straight away so you receive the right treatment for these.
Alternatives to Regional Chemotherapy
There are a wide range of cancer therapies available and not every treatment will be suitable for everyone. There are a number of factors you should consider including pain management, the impact on quality of life and the goal of the treatment to assess which therapy or combination of therapies could be right for you or a loved one. The options should be discussed fully with your care team to ensure you have all the information you need to make the best decision.
OncoloMed offer a broad range of novel cancer treatments that you may not have considered through our network of clinics and specialists. Find out about the treatments we can facilitate and how we help guide you through your cancer treatment journey.
Explore Your Treatment Options
If you think RCT could be a suitable treatment choice for you or a loved one, get in touch with OncoloMed to find out how we can help. We can help you access this treatment or help you review other appropriate options and give you the information you need to be in control of your treatment journey.
We are here to empower you in your cancer treatment journey. We take care of planning, organisation and facilitation so that you can focus on your health and family.