Since her diagnosis in 2014, Selena Gomez has actually been open around her journey through lupus. In enhancement to a kidney transplant in 2017, the 29-year-old singer and also actress has shared she's gone through chemotherapy to treat she autoimmune disease—and the the treatment's take away a toll on her career and mental

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"My lupus, mine kidney transplant, chemotherapy, having actually a psychological illness, going through very public heartbreaks—these to be all things that open minded should have taken me down," she stated in Elle magazine's September covering story, published Thursday.



That quick cite wasn't her first of chemotherapy: back in 2015, Gomez common with Billboard that her treatments forced her the end of the spotlight and also even sparked rumors that addiction. "I was diagnosed with lupus, and I've been through chemotherapy. That's what my rest was really about," Gomez said the magazine, hitting earlier at the rumors. "I wanted so badly to say, 'You guys have actually no idea. I'm in chemotherapy. You're assholes.' i locked myself away till I was confident and also comfortable again."

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), additionally called lupus, is a chronic autoimmune disease that occurs once the immune system attacks its own tissues and also organs. Since it's a systemic condition, lupus can influence many components of the body, such as the skin, joints, heart and also lungs, kidneys, and the brain. Lupus treatment at some point depends top top a person's symptoms and also their severity, yet in part cases—including Gomez's—doctors use chemotherapy medicine to suppress the autoimmune an answer responsible because that the disease.

Here's what come know about how chemotherapy functions for lupus, various other treatment choices for lupus, and also what various other illnesses (besides lupus and also cancer) chemotherapy is used for, according to rheumatologists.

Chemotherapy is a type of medicine that death the body's cells, and it's most typically known as a medicine to treat cancer. But doctors likewise use chemotherapy for other diseases, including blood disorders and autoimmune illness like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

While doctors may use the same varieties of drugs to treat cancer and also lupus, the two illness are different and also unrelated. Follow to Andrew Wang, MD, PhD, Yale medicine rheumatologist and assistant professor of medicine at Yale institution of Medicine, cancer occurs when cells abnormally divide, prosper larger, and damage various other cells and also organs. Autoimmune diseases, on the other hand, take place when the body's cells attack its very own tissues and also organs.

Chemotherapy drugs offered for cancer can assist with lupus, Dr. Wang says, due to the fact that autoimmunity also involves a comparable process. Prior to cells can strike the body, they first divide. "The thought is, if you have the right to stop the rapidly dividing phase, girlfriend can remove the autoimmunity," Dr. Wang tells

Because the two illness work so differently, doctors also use chemotherapy drugs in different way for patients through autoimmune diseases. According to Amr Sawalha, MD, chef of the division of pediatric rheumatology and director of the considerable Lupus facility of Excellence at the university of Pittsburgh school of Medicine, chemotherapy because that lupus is generally a much reduced dose 보다 cancer treatment.

"Rather than killing the immune cells, we suppress them sufficient that they prevent attacking organs and also tissues that the body," Dr. Sawalha speak For the reason, he adds, doctors usually call lupus-specific chemo therapy "immunotherapy treatment," quite than just "chemotherapy."

There are number of chemotherapy drugs, and also which one a physician prescribes counts on the particular symptoms a lupus patient is suffering (and how severe they are). Part chemo drugs might be taken together pills, while rather are given intravenously. In one of two people case, Dr. Sawalha says the side impacts are usually far milder 보다 in cancer treatment. Because that example, immunosuppressants can reason hair thinning prefer with chemotherapy, but not together severe. And also while part patients experience gastrointestinal difficulties like vomiting or diarrhea, Dr. Wang states those problems aren't practically as negative in many lupus patients.

Even though side effects are typically milder, Dr. Sawalha says, chemotherapy medicine aren't without risks—so it's crucial that doctors monitor them very closely through the process. "For example, we want to make certain we don't suppress the immune device too much and reduce the patient's white blood cell count," he says.

Chemotherapy is simply one treatment option for those through lupus. "For lupus and autoimmunity generally, over there are only a few drugs us share through cancer," Dr. Wang says. "The vast bulk of drugs lupus patient would get are not supplied with cancer."

One such alternative is steroids, which occupational by suppressing the entire immune device to avoid autoimmunity. But due to the fact that of the next effects—steroids threaten the immune response and can make people an ext susceptible to infection—doctors use them cautiously.

"Our target is to use steroids in ~ the lowest dose feasible for the shortest expression to minimization the long-term side effects," Dr. Sawalha says. Due to the fact that steroids work much faster than various other medications, he adds the they're especially advantageous for acute flare-ups, and also that doctors regularly use lock in associate with various other treatments the take much longer to work.

Biologics, another treatment option for lupus, job-related by targeting details cells connected in creating autoimmune antibodies fairly than the whole immune system. Currently, Dr. Sawalha says, there are two FDA-approved biologic medicine for dealing with lupus: Benlysta (benlimumab), i beg your pardon was very first approved come treat SLE in 2011 and then active lupus nephritis (a kidney disease caused through lupus) in December 2020; and also Saphnelo (anifrolumab-fnia) in respectable 2021.

For people with milder symptoms, Dr. Sawalha says he might prescribe an immunomodulator dubbed hydroxychloroquine, together with steroids in a flare-up. Because that patients with an ext severe symptoms—such as kidney failure, favor Gomez experienced—he would take into consideration immunosuppressants. "If a patient's condition isn't regulated with other medications, we might scale up," he says.

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Overall though, while all of these drugs can assist people through lupus, every patient is unique, Dr. Sawalha says—and the best treatment methods will rely on the patient's certain situation, and also be prescribed at the discretion the their entire medical team.

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