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How Cancer Treatments Destroy the Immune System

Cancer treatments can damage a patient’s immune system and cause conditions that may increase their risk of infection. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other cancer drugs can be too much for the body to handle and cause adverse side effects.

This compromises the immune system and affects its performance. It’s important to understand how cancer treatment may damage the immune system and take measures to protect yourself.

How Different Treatments Impact the Immune System

Cancer treatments help fight the disease in different ways, which affects the immune system differently. Chemotherapy drugs, for instance, are designed to kill cancer cells but may also destroy healthy cells in the bone marrow, which produce immune cells. This prevents their ability to protect you from bacteria, illnesses, and other threats.

A major surgery exposes the body to germs since it may also involve removing lymph nodes that help fight infection. The procedure can burden the immune system and exhaust all its reserves to help heal the wounds and prevent infection.

During radiation therapy, cancer cells are destroyed through exposure to ionizing waves of energy. The treatment also damages healthy cells leading to conditions that increase a patient’s risk of infection.

Immunotherapy drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors are meant to boost the immune system and help to identify and attack cancerous cells. However, this can cause the immune system to become overactive and attack healthy cells, causing flu-like symptoms or other serious autoimmune conditions like colitis.

Precautionary Measures to Take

To reduce your risks of infection especially in times like this (Coronavirus era), you should take precautions such as;

  • Ensuring you brush and floss your teeth
  • Cleaning and bandaging any cuts and scrapes you may have
  • Using an electric shaver when shaving
  • Avoiding contact with animal waste
  • Not consuming unpasteurized dairy foods, undercooked meats and raw grains, vegetables, nuts, fruits, and honey.
  • Observing high hygienic standards such as washing your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water all the time and using disinfectants and sanitizers approved by relevant bodies.
  • Self-isolating yourself when at risk or when exposed
  • Practicing social distancing and staying away from people who are sick
  • Disinfecting surfaces in your house and other objects or appliances you use more often.

These measures can help you avoid infection and maintain or strengthen your immune system while undergoing cancer treatment. Working with your cancer care team can help you ensure you stay healthy and risk-free at all times.

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