Chemotherapy is medication delivered to the body to eliminate cancer cells or greatly reduce their effect. It targets cells that divide rapidly, a characteristic of most cancer cells.
Chemotherapy, often used to support and enhance other cancer treatment modalities, interferes with the division and reproduction of cells. If a cancer cell cannot reproduce, it eventually dies without another cell to replace it. Chemotherapy is usually administered orally or intravenously. Some types of chemotherapy are delivered daily over a prescribed period, while others are given weekly. Similarly, some chemotherapy infusion sessions last only a few minutes, while others take a full day.
Recent advances in chemotherapy treatment mean patients may not experience some of the common side effects previously associated with chemotherapy. For instance, not all treatments result in hair loss, weight gain, or nausea. Side effects of chemotherapy depend on the type and dose of chemotherapy received. Your physician may combine other medications, such as radiation therapy, with your cancer treatment drugs to offset negative reactions.