Chemotherapy involves treatment of cancer by administering special medicines or chemicals to the body. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells which grow and divide in a fast manner.

Chemotherapy may be used for:

  • Treatment of cancer: chemotherapy can be used for the curing of cancer, lower the chance of its return, and slow or stop its growth.
  • Ease symptoms of cancer: This therapy is used to shrink tumors which are painful and cause other problems.

Consult any of top 10 cancer doctors in India about the use of chemotherapy.

Who is given chemotherapy?

It is given to treat several types of cancers. In case of some people, it may be the sole treatment given. But in most cases, chemo may be combined with other kinds of treatment. The type of treatment depends on what kind of cancer you have, if it has spread, where it is located and if you have other kinds of health problems.

How is it used with other treatment types?

 When chemo is used in combination with other treatment types, it can:

  • Make small a tumor before radiation therapy or surgery. It is referred to as neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
  • Annihilate cancer cells which may be left after radiation or surgery. It is referred to as adjuvant chemotherapy.
  • Help in the better working of other types of treatments.
  • Destroy cancer cells which have spread or returned to other areas of the body.

What are some side-effects of chemo?

Chemo kills not only cancerous cells but also some healthy cells of the body. These include cells of the intestine and mouth as well as those which enable growth of hair. The damage caused to healthy cells will result in side effects like nausea, hair loss and mouth sores. The side effects mostly disappear after the stoppage of chemo.

The most common effect of chemo is fatigue. You can deal with it by:

  • Arranging for someone to drive you to and from location where you are administered chemo.
  • Making plans for resting on the day and the day after chemo.
  • Arranging help with chores and child care on the day and the day after chemo.

What is the cost of chemotherapy?

This depends on:

  • Dose and types of chemotherapy
  • The duration of chemo
  • Location of chemo-home, doctor’s office, clinic or hospital room
  • The country you live in- for instance best cancer doctors in India cost much less than anywhere else.
  • Type of insurance: discuss with insurance company on how much of the cost of chemo will be covered.

How is chemo administered?

Chemo may be given in different ways. These include:

  • Oral- chemo comes in form of capsules, pills, or liquids to be swallowed.
  • Intravenous: Through veins
  • Injection: Chemo is given through a shot in the hip, arm or thigh or fatty region of belly, leg or arm.
  • Intrathecal: chemo is injected into the space between layers of tissue which cover the spinal cord and the brain.
  • Intraperitoneal: The chemo goes straight into the peritoneal cavity that is the body area housing the liver, stomach and intestines.
  • Intra-arterial: Chemo is injected into the artery which leads to the cancer.
  • Topical: Chemo is contained in an ointment which you can rub into your skin.

These are some facts about chemotherapy used to treat cancer.