FAIRMONT — A lot has changed since the early 20th century, when someone surmised that mustard gas used as chemical warfare during World War I might be an effective way to kill cancer cells.
During World War II at Yale University, the first patients received nitrogen mustards in their veins and showed vast, albeit temporary, improvement in lymphoma cases.
More than 70 years later, a variety of different chemotherapy drugs can treat different types of cancers, and with different goals in mind as well, said Tricia Julian, the program coordinator for oncology services at Fairmont General Hospital.
In addition to having the aim of curing cancer, Julian said, other purposes for chemotherapy treatment can be to control cancer and keep it at bay, to ease symptoms in a palliative manner, and to prevent a recurrence of cancer.
An example of the latter, Julian said, would be when women take Tamoxifen or Arimidex following breast cancer treatment.