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Preventive chemotherapy – what is it? What is Duchess Kate's treatment like?

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When informing about her cancer diagnosis, Duchess Kate said that she had undergone preventive chemotherapy. What is this type of treatment? We explain what preventive chemotherapy looks like and when it is used.

In a recording published late on Friday afternoon, Duchess Kate announced that after undergoing surgery in January abdominal surgery she was diagnosed with cancer. She did not reveal what type of cancer it was, but said that she currently “feels good.” “My medical team advised me to undergo preventive chemotherapy,” said the 42-year-old wife of the heir to the British throne. – I'm in the early stages of this treatment – she added.

Duchess Kate announced that she had been diagnosed with cancerChris Jackson/PA Wire/PAP/EPA

Preventive chemotherapy – what is it?

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The term preventive chemotherapy – in Polish usually called adjuvant or preventive chemotherapy – refers to a number of forms of treatment used in patients with various types of cancer. The course of treatment is therefore different depending on the specific case, but its goal remains the same. The aim is to prevent the possible spread of the cancer and reduce the risk of disease recurrence.

Preventive chemotherapy is used after other forms of treatment, such as surgery or radiotherapy. If, in the opinion of doctors, the likelihood of metastases remains high after such treatment, preventive chemotherapy is intended to prevent them. This therapy is intended to destroy cancer cells that could develop in other organs.

“Adjunctive therapy is often used after primary treatment, such as surgery,” explains the Mayo Clinic, a prestigious American nonprofit medical organization, on its website. He explains that “even if surgery is successful in removing all visible cancer, microscopic fragments of cancer may remain in (the patient's body) that cannot be detected by current diagnostic methods.” While the use of preventive chemotherapy “does not guarantee that the cancer will not return,” it does reduce the risk of recurrence.

SEE ALSO: “It's a familiar scenario.” Doctors about Duchess Kate's diagnosis

Treatment with preventive chemotherapy

Preventive chemotherapy uses the same agents that are administered to patients actively fighting cancer. The selection of specific drugs depends on the individual situation of each patient, including the type of cancer detected and its stage – explains oncologist Katherine Van Loon in an interview with “Time”. The length of treatment also depends on these factors. On average it ranges from three to six months. However, the Guardian notes that in some cases chemotherapy cycles may be administered even over several years.

The British daily also indicates that adjuvant chemotherapy is particularly effective in the fight against breast, colon and lung cancer. It is also often implemented after surgical removal of epithelial ovarian cancer, although it can also be used for other cancers. As oncologist Katherine Van Loon explains, the main reason for its implementation is whether the tumor pathology or the patient's clinical history raise concerns about the disease recurrence in the future. Doctors may also decide to use it if they choose a “very conservative” approach, justified, for example, by the young age of the patient.

Preventive chemotherapy – side effects

Like other types of chemotherapy, preventive chemotherapy is not without side effects. These, depending on the type of drugs used, may vary. The most common symptoms include general fatigue, nausea, digestive system problems, increased risk of infection, hair loss, loss of appetite and the possibility of allergic reactions. They usually disappear after a few or a dozen or so weeks after the end of treatment.

SEE ALSO: Why did Duchess Kate decide to talk about the disease now? What is known about the diagnosis?

The Guardian, Time, ROZNIKRAKA.pl, TVN24.pl

Main photo source: Chris Jackson/PA Wire/PAP/EPA



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