Chemotherapy means use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. It works by keeping the cancer cells from growing and dividing to make more cells. Because cancer cells usually develop and divide faster than healthy cells, chemotherapy destroys them more rapidly than it destroys most healthy cells.

Since chemotherapy drugs are powerful, they destroy  many growing cells, including some healthy cells. This damage results into side effects of chemotherapy.

Goal of chemotherapy

Chemotherapy goals depend on the type of cancer and how far it has spread. Sometimes, the main goal is to get rid of all the cancer and keep it away from coming back. If this is not possible, you might have chemotherapy to delay or slow down cancer growth.

Your chemotherapy plan

There are numerous cancer drugs available. A medical oncologist  who specializes in treating cancer will recommend your chemotherapy. Combination of drugs is also prescibed  because this sometimes works better than one drug alone.

Your chemotherapy drugs, dose, and treatment schedule depends on many factors. These include:

  •     The type of cancer
  •     Stage of cancer: Tumor size, its location and if it has spread
  •     Your age and general health
  •     How well you can cope with certain side effects
  •     Any other medical conditions you have
  •     Past cancer treatments

Where is chemotherapy given?

Chemotherapy can be done at a clinic, doctor's office, or the hospital. You might take the drugs at home with some types of treatment. Treatment should be taken from best oncologist.

How long does chemotherapy take?

Chemotherapy is given for a specific time, such as 6 months or a year. Or you might get it as long as it works.

For example, on the first day you might get a dose of chemotherapy and then have 3 weeks of recovery time before repeating the treatment. Each 3-week period is called a treatment cycle. Several cycles make up a course of chemotherapy. A course usually lasts 3 months or more.

How is chemotherapy given?

Intravenous (IV) chemotherapy: Injection is given directly into a vein. Treatment takes a few minutes to a few hours.

Oral chemotherapy: You can take some traditional chemotherapy drugs by mouth. They can be in a form of  pill, capsule, or liquid. You can also pick up your medication from the pharmacy and take it at home. Oral treatment for cancer is  more common theses days, since many of the new drugs called targeted therapies work this way.  

Injected chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is given as a shot, usually in a muscle, the fatty part of an arm or leg, or your abdomen.

Intra-arterial or IA chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs are injected into an artery that goes directly to the cancer.An artery is a blood vessel which carries blood from your heart to another part of your body.  

Chemotherapy into the peritoneum or abdomen: For some cancers, medication may be placed directly in your abdomen. This type of treatment works for cancers involving the peritoneum. The peritoneum covers the surface which is inside of the abdomen and surrounds the intestines, liver and stomach. 

Topical chemotherapy:Chemotherapy drugs are given in a cream you put on your skin. You get your medication at the pharmacy and take it at home.

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