Why is it important? The most common cancer therapies, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, that tackle cancer cells can also be devastating to healthy cells. The resulting side effects are well-known: nausea, hair loss, lack of appetite, infections, tiredness and even memory problems. There is also occasional cardiotoxicity – damage done to the heart over time. Cardiotoxicity by chemotherapy agents was first discovered in 1967. So, although modern chemotherapy drugs can greatly extend patients’ lives, they can also have serious side effects and complications. Why are we using such drugs then? (As we’ve mentioned in our first Cancer 101 Digest: ‘Since each cancer is its own individual, it’s hard to develop drugs that work for everyone’. Therefore, finding a way to reduce the toxicity of otherwise useful drugs would be great news to patients.
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