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Chemotherapy is a drug treatment using strong medicines to kill cancer cells in the body. Chemotherapy is often used to treat cancer since cancer cells grow and divide at a much quicker rate than normal cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be used alone or in combination for maximum effect. Though chemotherapy is an effective way to treat many types of cancer, it also carries side effects. Chemotherapy is recommended for cancer that has already spread to other areas of the body or for tumours that cannot be removed surgically. It is also used when a patient has a recurrent disease after initial treatment with surgery or radiation therapy.
Process: Chemotherapy drugs can be given in different ways, including:
- Infusions – It is mostly given intravenously (into a vein) by inserting a tube with a needle into the arm or a device in a vein in the chest
- Pills – Certain chemotherapy drugs can be taken in capsule or pill form
- Shots – Some drugs can be injected with a needle shot
- Chemotherapy creams. Creams or gels containing chemotherapy drugs can be applied to the skin to treat certain types of skin cancer.
- Localized Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy drugs can be given directly to one area of the body or on the location of the cancer
7 Questions About Blood Cancer | Dr. Ragesh Radhakrishnan Nair
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can I miss a dose of chemotherapy?
Unless advised by your doctor, you must comply with the chemotherapy schedule. Sometimes the doctor revises the schedule due to side effects you may have. If this happens, your doctor will explain what to do and when to start treatment again.
How do I know my chemotherapy is working?
Each person responds differently to a treatment. Your doctor will monitor you closely and schedule appropriate tests to evaluate the effectiveness of your treatment. Your doctor may keep your treatment the same or adjust your treatment depending on the results of your tests.
How is chemotherapy administered?
Your doctor will choose the chemotherapy 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:
- Pill (also referred to as “oral” medication)
- Shot (Injection)
- IV (also known as “intravenous” – delivering liquid medicine through a tube into a vein)