Chemotherapy Medications are drugs used to destroy rapidly growing cancer cells. Medications can be taken orally, by injection, or intravenously. Certain chemotherapy drugs slow the growth of cancer cells and prevent them from spreading to other parts of the body. It can be added to radiation to shrink the tumor before surgery. It can also be used after surgery or radiation to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
However, chemotherapy can affect rapidly dividing normal cells, such as those in the hair follicle and digestive tract, causing complications.
The chemotherapy used, and treatment schedule depend on the type and stage of the cancer, the patient’s general health, and other factors. Chemotherapy is given alone or in combination with other cancer treatments, such as surgery or radiation.
Common side effects of chemotherapy include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, hair loss, and increased risk of infection. Some medications can also cause serious side effects, such as damage to the heart, lungs, or kidneys. Your healthcare team will work with you to manage any side effects and monitor your progress during and after treatment.