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Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer. Chemotherapy can be used alone or in combination with surgery and/or radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy is used to:

  • Keep cancer from spreading
  • Slow the growth of cancer
  • Shrink the size of a tumor before surgery or radiation
  • Kill cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body away from the main cancer site
  • Kill any cancer cells that remain after surgery or radiation
  • Relieve symptoms such as pain, loss of function or blockages due to cancer
  • Treat cancer that has reoccurred

There are more than 100 chemotherapy drugs being used today. Some are used for many different types of cancer, some are used for just one or two types of cancer. Your doctor at the Leever Cancer Center will choose the drug(s) to use, as well as the frequency and duration of your treatment, based on:

  • What kind of cancer you have
  • The stage of your cancer
  • Where in your body the cancer is located
  • The effect of cancer on your normal bodily functions
  • Your general health

Chemotherapy drugs can be administered in pill or liquid form, in a shot, intravenously using a catheter or other methods. Chemotherapy can also cause side effects and damage to healthy cells. Consult your doctor for details. 

Learn more about how to prepare for chemotherapy.

More information on chemotherapyis available from the American Cancer Society.