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Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy Overview

Chemotherapy (also called chemo) is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to damage and ultimately 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. Chemotherapy works best if the cancer cells do not recover as well as the normal cells. Exploiting the difference in the sensitivity of cancer cells as opposed to normal cells is central to effective chemotherapy treatments.

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 palliation of symptoms) - when chemotherapy shrinks tumors that are causing pain or pressure - such as by lessening a cough, or pain by affecting the cancer cells causing such symptoms..
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/30/2014

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Chemotherapy:

Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy and Your Daily Life

How were you able to integrate your chemotherapy treatment regimen into your daily life?

Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy Side Effects

What side effect symptoms did you experience during your chemotherapy treatment?






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