What is chemotherapy?
Also called “chemo,” it’s a way to treat cancer that uses drugs to kill cancer cells.
How does chemotherapy work?
It targets cells that grow and divide quickly, as cancer cells do. Unlike radiation or surgery, which target specific areas, chemo can work throughout your body. But it can also affect some fast-growing healthy cells, like those of the skin, hair, intestines, and bone marrow. That’s what causes some of the side effects from the treatment.
What does chemotherapy do?
It depends on the kind of cancer you have and how far along it is.
- Cure: In some cases, the treatment can destroy cancer cells to the point that your doctor can no longer detect them in your body. After that, the best outcome is that they never grow back again, but that doesn’t always happen.
- Control: In some cases, it may only be able to keep cancer from spreading to other parts of your body or slow the growth of cancer tumors.
- Ease symptoms: In some cases, chemotherapy can’t cure or control the spread of cancer and is simply used to shrink tumors that cause pain or pressure. These tumors often continue to grow back.