Either as an injection or as ingested medicine, chemotherapy drugs damage dividing cells. Most of the body’s cells are done dividing in adult humans, unless tissues are repairing themselves. Cancer cells on the other hand divide rapidly as they form lumps and tumors, therefore they are more easily damaged by chemotherapy. The damaged, cancerous cells then die.
Chemotherapy works by administering drugs to the patient which interfere with the activity of the cancer cells. They either work to directly mess up the cancer cells, or work to confuse the cells so they end up killing themselves in the confusion. Alkylating agents directly react with the DNA and cause problems with cell division and every aspect of the cancer cell’s life. Anti-metabolites block normal metabolism processes for the cells, and therefore do not allow the cell to replicate itself. Chemotherapy practices and the drugs used are constantly evolving and changing to better treat cancer patients.
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