What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy, often called chemo, uses medicines or drugs to eliminate cancer cells. Chemotherapy for cancer can be used alone or in combination with surgery and radiation.
Chemo can be used for different reasons, which your doctor will discuss with you before you start treatment. Chemo may be used to:
- Keep the cancer from spreading
- Slow the cancer's growth
- Kill cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body
- Relieve symptoms such as pain or blockages caused by cancer
- Cure cancer
Going through chemo treatment can be a very difficult experience not only for patients but for their families as well. Remember, you are never alone when receiving care at Baptist. Our nurse navigators are there for you every step of the way from diagnosis to follow-up care offering education, care coordination, counseling and connecting patients to community resources.
How does chemotherapy work?
There are more than 100 types of drugs that are used for different chemotherapy treatment plans. Most chemo treatments will use more than one of these drugs to eliminate cancerous cells. Chemotherapy can be administered in a variety of ways including orally with a liquid or pill, in the form of a shot, but the most common chemo delivery method is an intravenous infusion. The duration of your chemo treatment will depend on your cancer treatment plan and the effectiveness of the chemo.
Chemotherapy infusion is generally not painful but there are potential side effects, including . Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about side effects. Common side effects may include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fertility problems, emotional changes, as well mouth and skin changes. Many side effects can be treated and possibly prevented, so talk to your doctor before you begin treatments to assess your risk for side effects and what can be done to prevent them.
How is chemotherapy administered?
Depending on the drugs and where the cancer is located, your chemo may be administered in one or more of these ways.
Chemo is delivered as a pill, capsule, or liquid – and is taken just as you do other medicines. Oral chemo treatments are broken down by stomach acid and are absorbed by the stomach lining.
These chemo drugs are administered directly to a vein. This treatment option is available on-site at our cancer care facilities throughout the Mid-South. This is also the most common chemo delivery method.
The chemo drugs are injected into the fluid-filled space between the thin layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord. This chemo treatment optionIntrathecal chemotherapy is available on-site at our cancer care facilities throughout the Mid-South and is administered by our dedicated staff.
The chemo drug is put into an artery to treat a single area (such as the liver, an arm, or leg). This method limits the effect of the drug on other parts of the body. We use this chemo delivery method on-site in our cancer care facilities and it is administered by our experienced staff.
Chemo drugs are given through a catheter into the abdominal cavity (the space around the bowels and other organs in the belly) or chest cavity (the space around the lungs and other organs in the chest). This type of chemo delivery method is on-site and is used to treat cancers that originate in body cavities.
The chemo drug is injected into a muscle (as a shot). This chemo delivery method is administered in one of our cancer care facilities by a trained and experienced staff.
The chemo drug is injected into a tumor in the skin, under the skin, or in an internal organ. This chemo delivery method is available on-site in our cancer care facilities and is administered by our dedicated staff.
The chemo drug is placed directly on the area of cancer on the skin as a cream, gel, or ointment. While topical treatments are not very common in cancer treatments, they can be used to treat skin cancers.
Learn More About Our Cancer Care Services
In addition to chemotherapy treatment, Baptist Cancer Center offers a wide range of cancer treatment services. Whether you or a loved one needs genetic counseling, reconstructive surgery, palliative care or another form of cancer support, we serve the Mid-South with close-to-home care. Learn more about our cancer services now.
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