What is Chemotherapy?
Sometimes referred to simply as “chemo”, chemotherapy is used most often to describe drugs that kill cancer cells directly. These are sometimes referred to as “anti-cancer” drugs or “antineoplastics.” Other chemo drugs such as biologic response modifiers, hormone therapy, and monoclonal antibodies, which work in different ways to treat cancer, are included in this web-site. Today’s therapy uses more than 100 drugs to treat cancer. There are even more chemo drugs still under development and investigation.
What is Chemotherapy Used For?
Since cancer is a word used to describe many different diseases, there is no one type of treatment that is used universally. Chemotherapy is used for a variety of purposes:
- To cure a specific cancer;
- To control tumor growth when cure is not possible;
- To shrink tumors before surgery or radiation therapy;
- To relieve symptoms (such as pain); and
- To destroy microscopic cancer cells that may be present after the known tumor is removed by surgery (called adjuvant therapy). Adjuvant therapy is given to prevent a possible cancer reoccurrence.