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Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy Overview

Chemotherapy (also called chemo) is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells.

How Does Chemotherapy Work?

Chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide quickly. But it can also harm healthy cells that divide quickly, such as those that line your mouth and intestines or cause your hair to grow. Damage to healthy cells may cause side effects. Often, side effects get better or go away after chemotherapy is over.

What Does Chemotherapy Do?

Depending on your type of cancer and how advanced it is, chemotherapy can:

  • Cure cancer - when chemotherapy destroys cancer cells to the point that your doctor can no longer detect them in your body and they will not grow back.

  • Control cancer - when chemotherapy keeps cancer from spreading, slows its growth, or destroys cancer cells that have spread to other parts of your body.

  • Ease cancer symptoms (also called palliative care) - when chemotherapy shrinks tumors that are causing pain or pressure.

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