How Long After Chemo Are You Immunocompromised (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 21 to 28 days

Chemotherapy is one of the many drug treatments used for medication and is used to kill the rapid growth cells of the body. Most commonly, Chemotherapy is used to treat Cancer as cancer cells need to be prevented from growing in the body. Chemotherapy can be used in various ways, for example, to treat cancer at the starting, or to kill hidden cancer cells after the treatment.

However, the less popular aspects of Chemotherapy are that it is also used to treat bone-marrow diseases and immune system disorders. While Chemotherapy is a very effective medication way, there are several side effects involved in getting Chemotherapy as it can make the person feel nausea, diarrhea, hair loss, etc.

How Long After Chemo Are You Immunocompromised?

Chemotherapy messes with the immune system of the patient, and whereas some people get back to normal after two or three months, it might take others up to even nine months to get their immune system back to normal. 

Chemotherapy is of various types some of which include, Standard Chemotherapy, Cytotoxic Chemotherapy, and Traditional Chemotherapy. Standard Chemotherapy works by killing the growing cells which are harmful to the body like cancer cells. Cytotoxic Chemotherapy is a treatment that kills the rapid growth of harmful cells but does fairly little damage to the normal cell, unlike Standard Chemotherapy which kills both the cells. Traditional Chemotherapy, on the other hand, uses drugs that mainly help to kill the tumor cells.

There is a different goal for the chemotherapy depending upon the condition of the body, sometimes it can help get rid of all the harmful cells in the body, and other times it is a precautionary procedure to prevent the growth of the harmful cells and to stop it from spreading in the body.

RECOMMENDED
How Long Is Recovery After Aortic Valve Replacement (And Why)?

The reason why Chemotherapy makes the body immunocompromised is that the drugs which are supposed to kill the harmful cells in the body also affect the normal body cells and especially the bone marrow. Hence, the bone marrow is affected in a way that it would produce low red and white blood cells, and blood platelets. The compromising of the white blood cells in the body makes the body prone to infection.

Type Of ChemotherapyEffect On The Body
Standard ChemotherapyKills the Normal Body Cells along with the harmful ones.
Cytotoxic ChemotherapyLesser Damage on the normal body cells
Traditional ChemotherapyUsed to treat Tumor cells

Why Are You Immunocompromised After 3 to 6 Months of Chemo?

As Chemotherapy affects the bone marrow and its ability to produce red and white blood cells, and blood platelets, the body becomes more prone to infections due to the lack of white blood cells. Hence, the immune system of the body is affected and it is called “immunocompromised.”

Whereas all kinds of Chemotherapy would affect the immune system of the body, the severity of the action depends upon some factors like the kind of medication being taken, how often is chemotherapy taking place, how long does the treatment lasts, etc. There are two ways of the medicines being taken into the body, the first is in the shape of pills, and the second is intravenous treatments where the medicine is injected into veins in the arm, chest, or hands.

The frequency of chemotherapy also affects the immune system. Generally, a rest period of several weeks is given to the body after some days of injecting medicines for the body to relax. The chemotherapy usually lasts for 3 to 6 months and it takes about 21 to 28 days for the person’s immune system to recover from the medication and get back to the normal capacity.

RECOMMENDED
How Long After Appendectomy Can I Lift Weights (And Why)?

However, the person can take some measures to take care of their immune system even during the chemotherapy by following some rules. The first could be getting enough rest so that the body does not feel the fatigue of the Chemotherapy medicines and can relax. Further, a healthy diet plan should be discussed with the doctor to give the body energy which can be otherwise drained during the procedure.

Conclusion

Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses drugs to kill the harmful rapidly growing cells in the body. It is usually used to treat cancer but is also effective in bone marrow diseases and immune system disorders. During Chemotherapy the drugs are entered into the body, either by pills or intravenous treatments, and attack the harmful growing cells in the body. However, during this process, the drug also affects the normal cells and the blood marrow, which leads to the lack of white blood cells in the body, especially, and hence makes the person immune to infection. This state is known as being “immunocompromised,” and it can take the body from 21 to 28 days to recover after the chemotherapy has ended.

References

  1. https://www.breastcancer.org/tips/immune/cancer/chemo
  2. https://www.fredhutch.org/en/news/center-news/2016/01/chemotherapy-immune-system.html
  3. https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/how-cancer-treated/chemotherapy/understanding-chemotherapy#:~:text=For%20example%2C%20you%20might%20get,lasts%203%20months%20or%20more.
x
How Long After Protein Shake To Eat Meal