Chemotherapy is one of the longest used and most common
treatments for cancer. In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with
the cancer cell's ability to grow and reproduce. For some types of cancer,
chemotherapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as
radiation or surgery. A combination of chemotherapy medicines is typically used
to fight a specific cancer.
While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating
certain cancers, the medicines reach all parts of the body, not just the cancer
cells. There can be many side effects during treatment, and being prepared for
these side effects can help you and your caregivers manage them effectively.
How is chemotherapy given?
Chemotherapy can be given in
various ways, such as:
- A pill to swallow.
- An injection (shot) into the muscle or fat tissue.
- Directly into the bloodstream, or intravenously (also called IV).
- Topically (applied to the skin).
- Directly into a body cavity.
Chemotherapy is usually given in
cycles in order to allow healthy cells the time to recover. Treatment may be
given daily, weekly, every few weeks, or monthly, depending on your situation.
Also, this treatment is typically given
in an outpatient setting. This includes a hospital, clinic, or healthcare
Patients are encouraged to take
along something that is comforting to occupy their time during treatment. Since
it is hard to predict how a patient will feel after treatment, it is important that
the patient has arrangements to have someone drive them to and from their