Chemotherapy is a widely used treatment for cancer. The term chemotherapy refers to the drugs that prevent cancer cells from dividing and growing. It does this by killing the dividing cells.

A wide range of drugs is used to achieve these goals. The effectiveness depends to some extent on the stage of the cancer being treated.

What is chemotherapy?

As part of the body's natural process, cells are constantly replaced through a process of dividing and growing.

When cancer occurs, cells reproduce in an uncontrolled manner. Chemotherapy drugs interfere with a cancer cell's ability to divide and reproduce. A single drug or a combination of drugs is used.

These can be delivered either directly into the bloodstream, to attack cancer cells throughout the body, or they can be targeted to specific cancer sites.

Fast facts on chemotherapy:

Chemotherapy is used in the treatment of cancer.

It can prevent disease progress or bring about remission by killing the cells as they divide.

There may be serious adverse effects, and patients should discuss these with their physician.

Depending on the individual and the stage of the cancer, chemotherapy can bring eliminate cancer cells or bring about long-term remission of symptoms.

What does chemotherapy do?

Impair mitosis, or prevent cell division, as in the case of cytotoxic drugs

Target the cancer cells' food source, which consists of the enzymes and hormones they need to grow

Trigger the suicide of cancer cells, known medically as apoptosis. stop the growth of new blood vessels that supply a tumor in order to starve it

What to expect:

Chemotherapy is an invasive treatment that can have severe adverse effects. This is because the drugs often target not only cancerous cells but also healthy cells.

The adverse effects can be worrying, but given early, chemotherapy can in some cases achieve a complete cure, making the side effects bearable for many patients.It is important that patients know what to expect before starting treatment.

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