Inhibiting Cancer Growth
Chemotherapy — or simply “chemo” — is a common type of cancer treatment. During chemo, powerful drugs are used to stop or slow cancer growth. Unfortunately, chemotherapy treatments are so strong they can affect healthy cells and cause side effects. Thankfully, many side effects are short-lived and improve when chemotherapy ends.
Certain factors impact the type of chemotherapy used, including: the type of cancer, whether a patient has undergone chemotherapy before and if a patient has other health issues such as diabetes or heart disease.
Chemotherapy can enter the body in a number of ways including pills, injections, creams, IVs, catheters and ports. Treatments affect some people more than others.
While there’s no way to predict the effects of treatment, many people feel fatigued. Others feel anxious and helpless. People undergoing chemo may still be able to work during treatment, provided they feel up to it.
Doctors select chemotherapy with different outcomes in mind. Chemotherapy works alone or in conjunction with other treatments to:
- Cure cancer.
- Control the spread or growth of cancer cells.
- Ease pain or pressure caused by a tumor.
- Reduce a tumor’s size before surgery or radiation.
- Destroy remaining cells after surgery or radiation.
- Improve effectiveness of radiation or targeted therapy.
Many factors affect the length of treatment. Your physician will consider what type of cancer you have, the degree of advancement, treatment goals, the type of chemotherapy being used and how your body reacts to it. Some people receive “cycles” of chemotherapy — treatments followed by a period of rest. Sometimes chemo is given alone and, other times, in conjunction with other treatments such as surgery and radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy is administered in a variety of locations ranging from home to the hospital. Patients also receive treatments in a doctor’s office or clinic, or in a hospital’s outpatient department.
Coping with cancer and chemotherapy can be difficult. There are many support groups that exist for patients — even some for specific types of cancer. If you’re excessively worried or if your feelings seem out of control, be sure to share what’s happening with your doctor or nurse.