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Chemotherapy is an aggressive form of chemical drug therapy meant to destroy rapidly growing cells in the body. It usually works by keeping the cancer cells from growing, dividing, and making more cells. Because cancer cells usually grow and divide faster than normal cells, chemotherapy has more of an effect on cancer cells. However, the drugs used for chemotherapy are powerful, and they can still cause damage to healthy cells.
It is considered a systemic treatment, which means it affects the entire body.
The goals of chemotherapy depend on the type of cancer and how far it has spread. Sometimes, the goal of treatment is to get rid of all the cancer and keep it from coming back. If this is not possible, you might receive chemotherapy to delay or slow cancer growth.
Delaying or slowing cancer growth with chemotherapy also helps manage symptoms caused by the cancer. Chemotherapy given with the goal of delaying cancer growth is sometimes called palliative chemotherapy.
Doctors use chemotherapy in different ways at different times. These include:-
(a) Before surgery or radiation therapy to shrink tumors. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
(b) After surgery or radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
© It is the only treatment. For example, to treat cancers of the blood or lymphatic system, such as leukemia and lymphoma.
(d) For cancer that comes back after treatment, called recurrent cancer.
(e) For cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, called metastatic cancer.
Chemotherapy may be given in several different ways such as intravenously, orally, into arteries, into peritoneum or abdomen, as a shot, and topically.
Chemotherapy is often given for a specific time, such as 6 months or a year. Or you might receive chemotherapy for as long as it works.