Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment where medication is used to kill cancer cells.
There are many different types of chemotherapy medication, but they all work in a similar way.
They stop cancer cells reproducing, which prevents them from growing and spreading in the body.
When chemotherapy is used
Chemotherapy may be used if cancer has spread or there’s a risk it will.
It can be used to:
The effectiveness of chemotherapy varies significantly. Ask your doctors about the chances of treatment being successful for you.
Types of chemotherapy
Chemotherapy can be given in several ways. Your doctors will recommend the best type for you.
The most common types are:
You may be treated with one type of chemotherapy medicine or a combination of different types.
You’ll usually have several treatment sessions, which will typically be spread over the course of a few months.
Side effects of chemotherapy
As well as killing cancer cells, chemotherapy can damage some healthy cells in the body, such as blood cells, skin cells and cells in the stomach.
This can cause a range of unpleasant side effects, such as:
Many of these side effects can be treated or prevented and most, if not all, will pass after treatment stops.