Selena Gomez has been transparent about her battle with lupus ever since she was diagnosed in 2014. The 29-year-old singer and actress have been open about the toll that chemotherapy for her autoimmune disease has placed on her career and mental health, in addition to the kidney transplant she received in 2017.
When asked what had kept her going, Golez told Elle magazine, “My lupus, my kidney transplant, chemotherapy, having a mental disease, suffering through very public heartbreaks.”
In 2015, Gomez told Billboard that she had to step away from the spotlight due to her treatments, which had led to speculation that she was addicted to the drugs she was taking. “I was given a lupus diagnosis and subjected to chemotherapy. So that’s why I took a little break: “Gomez stated in the publication. Selena Gomez illness.
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What Is Lupus?
Lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus, is a chronic autoimmune illness that causes the body’s immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissues and organs. This is according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).
As a systemic disease, lupus can manifest in a wide variety of ways across the body. In some situations, like Gomez’s, doctors will employ chemotherapeutic medications to inhibit the autoimmune response that is responsible for the condition.
ultimately treatment for lupus relies on the severity of the patient’s symptoms. Here is some information regarding lupus and its treatment options, including chemotherapy. Selena Gomez illness.
How And Why Is Chemotherapy Used To Treat Lupus?
According to the National Cancer Institute, chemotherapy is a class of drugs used to treat cancer by killing off cancer cells (NCI). Chemotherapy is most commonly associated with the treatment of cancer, but it is also used for blood problems and autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Although some of the same drugs are used to treat both cancer and lupus, these two conditions are not even remotely related. Andrew Wang, MD, Ph.D., a rheumatologist at Yale Medicine and an assistant professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine explains that cancer develops when cells divide uncontrollably, grow to abnormal proportions, and cause damage to nearby healthy cells and organs.
The opposite is true for autoimmune diseases, which develop when one’s own cells begin attacking one’s own organs and tissues. Dr. Wang claims that cancer chemotherapy can help with lupus because the underlying process of autoimmunity is very similar. Cells must divide in order to multiply and then invade the body.
According to Dr. Wang’s comments to Health, “the idea is, if you can stop the rapidly dividing period, you can get rid of the autoimmune.” Chemotherapy medications are also used differently for people with autoimmune disorders due to the differences in how the two diseases manifest.
Cancer chemotherapy is administered at considerably higher doses than lupus chemotherapy, says Amr Sawalha, MD, chief of the division of pediatric rheumatology and director of the Comprehensive Lupus Center of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Selena Gomez illness.
Dr. Sawalha told Health that they don’t destroy the immune cells, but rather suppress them to the point where they cease assaulting the body’s organs and tissues. According to Dr. Sawalha, this is why doctors prefer to refer to the chemotherapy used to treat lupus as “immunotherapy treatment.”
Multiple chemotherapy medications are available. A healthcare provider’s choice will be based on the individual patient’s lupus symptoms (and how severe they are). Chemotherapy drugs come in pill form and are sometimes taken orally; others are administered intravenously.
Dr. Sawalha emphasized that the side effects of these therapies are typically much less severe than those of cancer treatment. For instance, immunosuppressants, while not as severe as chemotherapy, can lead to hair thinning. Selena Gomez illness.
— Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) December 6, 2022
Also, Dr. Wang noted that while some people with lupus may have gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, these difficulties are typically not as severe for the vast majority of those who have lupus.
Dr. Sawalha noted that chemotherapy medications have fewer severe side effects than alternative treatment options, but that this does not mean they are risk-free. Dr. Sawalha used the example of not wanting to “ever suppress the immune system” and cause a drop in white blood cell count.
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What Are Other Treatment Options For Lupus?
Cancer chemotherapy is only one of many potential treatments for lupus patients. Dr. Wang stated, “For lupus and autoimmune generally, there are just a few medications we share with cancer.” The bulk of the medications prescribed to those with lupus is not approved for treating cancer. Steroids are one such possibility; they act by lowering the immune system as a whole to prevent autoimmunity.
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, steroid use can reduce inflammation and immunological response, protecting your body’s tissues from harm. However, doctors are wary about using steroids due to their potential negative consequences on patient health.
To reduce the risk of permanent harm, Dr. Sawalha and his team plan to use steroids sparingly and for as short a time as possible. Steroids, Dr. Sawalha noted, are particularly useful for acute flare-ups because they operate faster than other medications; doctors typically use them in conjunction with other, slower-acting treatments. Selena Gomez illness.
According to the Food and Drug Administration of the United States, biologics are another therapy option for lupus that narrowly targets the immune system’s production of autoimmune antibodies (FDA). Two biologic medications, Saphnelo (anifrolumab-fnia) in August 2021 and Benlysta (benlimumab) in 2011 for the treatment of SLE and active lupus nephritis (kidney disease caused by lupus) in December 2020, have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of lupus.
according to Dr. Sawalha. Dr. Sawalha may recommend the immunomodulator hydroxychloroquine in combination with steroids for patients whose symptoms are modest. Dr. Sawalha would explore immunosuppressants for patients like Gomez who have extremely severe lupus symptoms, such as kidney failure.
Dr. Sawalha has noted, “We might scale up if a patient’s illness isn’t controlled with other treatments.” While all of these medications have the potential to improve lupus symptoms, Dr. Sawalha emphasized that each patient must be treated individually. Selena Gomez illness.
The optimal course of therapy is ultimately up to the discretion of the patient’s complete medical team, who will take into account the patient’s unique circumstances.
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