Chemotherapy is a group of medicines used to treat cancer. While surgery and radiation therapy target specific areas of cancer, chemotherapy works throughout the body and can destroy cancer cells that have spread (metastasized) from the original tumor site.
How does chemotherapy work?
Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells. Some cancer cells grow slowly; others, rapidly. As a result, different types of chemotherapy drugs are designed to target the growth patterns of specific types of cancer cells. Each drug has a different way of working and is effective at a specific time in the life cycle of the targeted cells. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan specifically for you, based on your type of cancer, its stage of advancement, and your overall health.
Depending on your individual condition, your chemotherapy may be designed to achieve one or more of the three goals: remission, controlling and/or relieving symptoms.
How is chemotherapy administered?
Your doctor will choose the method that will be most effective against your particular type of cancer and cause the fewest side effects. You may receive chemotherapy drugs in one or more of the following ways:
- Shot (injections)
- IV (intravenous or dripping medicine through a tube into the vein)
- Pill (oral medication)